One cannot fault the performances. Jackman holds nothing back as a survivalist father who, for the first time, is made to feel helpless. His belief that the local police aren’t being aggressive enough drives him to a level of desperation he’s never experienced before. Howard, his fellow dad and neighbor, is more passive but reluctantly goes along with Jackman’s extreme measures in the hope of rescuing their daughters. Gyllenhaal plays a police detective who is single-minded to the point of obsession—and who, we’re told, has never had an unsolved case. I wish his backstory was more fully explored.
Prisoners has received widespread praise in its early film festival showings, but I found it relentless—too bleak for my taste, right up through the surprising story resolution. It’s gripping and exceptionally well made, although like so many films I think it would have benefited from some pruning. I will probably be in the minority voicing this opinion, but I didn’t enjoy watching Prisoners, even though I admired the skill that went into it.