Prisoners is a 2013 American thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, from a screenplay written by Aaron Guzikowski, and executive produced by Mark Wahlberg.
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The film stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano. It premiered at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival. The film is about the abduction of two young girls and the resulting search to find them.
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), a deeply religious man who runs a failing carpentry business, attends a Thanksgiving dinner with his family at the house of their neighbors, the Birches. After dinner, the families' young daughters, Anna Dover and Joy Birch, go missing. After a police hunt, an RV that had been parked in the neighborhood is found outside a gas station next to a wooded area. When Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) goes to confront the RV's driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), Alex tries to speed away and crashes into the trees.
Alex is released due to lack of evidence. Keller, who was convinced that Alex knows where the girls are, becomes disillusioned and decides to take matters into his own hands by abducting and imprisoning Alex in an abandoned, run-down apartment building owned by Keller. With the reluctant help of Joy's father, Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), Keller repeatedly beats Alex for days for information. Overcome with guilt, Franklin tells his wife Nancy (Viola Davis) what they have done and brings her to see Alex. The Birches eventually decide to let Keller continue the torture, neither helping nor interfering. After Alex mentions escaping from a maze, Keller visits Alex's aunt, Holly Jones (Melissa Leo), to gauge her reaction when he mentions mazes.
Loki confronts a suspect named Bob Taylor (David Dastmalchian) at his home and finds that the walls are covered in drawings of intricate mazes. In a back room, locked crates filled with maze books, snakes, and bloody children's clothing are discovered. In custody, Taylor manages to grab a gun and commits suicide. Taylor is revealed to have faked the killings; the blood on the children's clothes is pig's blood and the clothing had been stolen after the abduction.
Days later, Joy Birch is found drugged and is hospitalized, but Anna is still missing. In her drugged state, Joy rambles that Keller was there. Keller rushes off as Loki chases him. Loki loses him, but heads toward the apartment complex and discovers the imprisoned Alex. Keller goes to Holly's, realizing that is where Joy had heard him. Holly holds Keller at gunpoint, drugs him, and imprisons him in a hidden pit. She reveals that she was responsible for the abduction of the girls and, with her husband, for several others before, including Bob Taylor. Alex was the first child they abducted.
Loki goes to Holly's house to tell her about Alex being found. He discovers Anna and is wounded by Holly, whom he kills. He rushes Anna to the hospital where she recovers. Later on alone at the Jones residence, Loki hears the faint sound of Keller blowing a whistle in the hidden pit and turns around to investigate.
Prisoners received positive reviews from critics. The film currently has an 80% approval rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 191 reviews. Its consensus reads: "Haunting, suspenseful, and masterfully acted, Prisoners has an emotional complexity and a sense of dread that makes for absorbing (and disturbing) viewing." Metacritic provides a score of 73 out of 100, based on 43 reviews, indicating 'Generally favorable reviews.'
It was also a second runner up for the BlackBerry People's Choice Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, where it came behind Philomena and 12 Years a Slave. Jake Gyllenhaal has just been selected to receive the Best Supporting Actor of the Year Award at the 2013 Hollywood Film Festival for his performance as Detective Loki as "a truly compelling, subtly layered portrayal of a man tasked with the impossible and driven by the demons of his own past. Jake has given a myriad of outstanding performances throughout his career. But his work in this film achieves a new level of complexity, as reflected in the rave reviews the film has received."
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