I first became aware of Prisoners when my bestie in the US told me she'd seen the trailer for the film, fully expecting me to know what it was. As a long time fan of Mr Gyllenhaal I was both surprised and disappointed that this film could get to the stage where a trailer was in theatres and I was unaware of it's existence. Clearly my dedication is slipping. In my defence, I was expecting Jake's next film to be a movie going by the title of 'Nailed' but apparently that film has long since been shelved.
So onto Prisoners. When two 8 year old girls go missing on Thanksgiving, and the man who is taken into custody is released, the fathers of the girls, Keller Dover (Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Howard), decide to take matters into their own hands. They kidnap the young man, Alex Jones (Dano), and despite his already fragile and child-like mind, they torture him for information. Meanwhile, Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) looks to maintain his track record of solving every case he's ever had, and continues his search for who he believes is responsible for the abduction.
The unfortunate character name of Gyllenhaal's detective aside, Prisoners is actually an incredibly tense, sometimes disturbing, look at what happens to the family left behind when a child goes missing. Jackman gives one of the best performances of his career here. His loyalty to his family making his character unhinged in his pursuit of answers. Howard, Bello, Davis and Leo all impress, but Jackman's main support in the majority of his scenes is Paul Dano, who turns in one of the creepiest performances I have seen in a long time. Then there's Gyllenhaal, who never fails to impress me. His subtle, understated, performance was just what the film needed to set him apart from the other great actors on show.