Hollywood is rife with films in which handsome movie stars battle aliens, robots and doomsday clocks. Prisoners is not such a film. Though it features some of the most dashing actors working today — led by Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano, with solid work from Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Melissa Leo — it is, at its core, an existential drama about morality in the guise of a thriller.
Directed by Canada’s Denis Villeneuve, the film is an unsettling and heart-pounding kidnapping saga in which nothing is black or white. Everything is murky in Prisoners, including the weather.
Jackman has never been better, or looked more destitute. And Gyllenhaal, with his wide blinking eyes and a scattering of body and hand tattoos, proves his Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain was no fluke. This is one of the year’s best films and one that’s not easy to shake off.