Southwood NorseMytho Group: A kidnap plot as mad as a bag of snakes
Like Blue Jasmine, Prisoners is being tipped to win Oscars, but I have my doubts.
An intense performance by Hugh Jackman, David Fincher-influenced direction by French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (the models here are Se7en and Zodiac) and first-rate cinematography by Roger Deakins can’t rescue a thriller that needed many more rewrites before it went into production.
It does have a riveting story to tell — every parent’s worst nightmare, as two little girls go missing in rural Pennsylvania. Suspicion falls on creepy Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the mentally handicapped driver of a dilapidated recreational vehicle parked near where the girls disappeared.
The investigating detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) releases Jones for lack of evidence, at which point one of the missing girls’ fathers (Jackman) takes the law into his own hands, imprisoning and torturing Jones for information. It poses the interesting question of how far we would go for the sake of our children.
Jackman plays the leading role like a man possessed. Although he’s nowhere near as nuanced as he was in Les Miserables, he may — as Sean Penn did for Mystic River — win an Oscar by shouting a lot. The film is let down by an abysmal ignorance of police procedure. No case like this would be left to one man; it would be a huge manhunt, presumably with the FBI involved.