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Updated: Apr 24

A powerful drama that covers some very interesting angles of a tragic event, PRISONERS is tough to watch for any parent, not only because of the subject matter, but because you will find yourself understanding some very tough choices by the players.

Hugh Jackman is terrific as Keller Dover, a hard working suburban Dad who along with his wife Grace (Maria Bello) and children, walk down the block to spend Thanksgiving with their neighbors Franklin and Nancy Birch.

When the youngest girl in each family leave together to go back to the Dover's home to grab something and don't come back, the families are plunged into every parent's nightmare.

Earlier in the day, the Dover kids had seen a dumpy Winnebago in the neighborhood, parked near their home. Soon, its owner Alex Jones (Paul Dano in a great performance) is suspect number one, but when there is NO evidence that Alex had anything to do with the girls appearance, he is released into the custody of his mother Holly Jones (Melissa Leo).

The parents are horrified and Keller is furious, convinced that Alex knows where the girls are.

The always excellent Jake Gyllenhaal is Detective Loki, caught between the letter of the law and his own suspicions that Alex is responsible.

Where the film goes from there will be viewed with understanding, terror, sympathy and shock in equal measure as the characters chase many paths to the truth in search of their missing children.

It's a harrowing ride, intensely directed by newcomer Denis Villeneuve, who brings a very different sensibility to what could have played like a bad Dateline episode.

The actors are all excellent, with Dano, Jackman and Gyllenhaal leading the way.

The Birch's are played by Viola Davis and Terrence Howard and they are both really strong as they suffer two horrors at once during the ordeal.

Jackman is intense and I think this may be his best performance of all time, devolving as a human in his single-minded quest to find his daughter.

Not an easy film, devoid of the typical Hollywood storyline path and all the better for it, PRISONERS is a great thriller and a powerful drama that gets an A.

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