Prisoners - A Review
By Keith Donnelly - July 22, 2023

Prisoners is a 2013 film that was met favorably by both audiences and critics alike. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Aaron Guzikowzki, it focuses on the abduction of two girls in Pennsylvania and the ensuing police search for the abductor. After an arrest that goes nowhere, the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) chooses to take matters into his own hands in this thriller film.

Part of the charm of Prisoners lies in the rather simple story which allows the ensemble cast to push their acting skills to the peak. Both Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal deliver fantastic performances in this film. For many, this was the first time Jackman was seen holding his own as an actor outside of an X-Men film, and he really did deliver. The intensity of his character – a father doing everything in his power to get his daughter back – and his need to feel in control manifests in some gripping scenes. One does not expect to see an angered Hugh Jackman breaking a porcelain sink down with a hammer to threaten a beaten up Paul Dano, but you can’t look away for a second when it actually happens.

Getty Images/ Getty Images Entertainment/ John Lamparski

Prisoners also stands out because of its excellent pacing and portrayal of characters. Abduction thrillers are a dime a dozen in this day and age, but Villeneuve and Guzikowzki do not hold your hand through this one. There is a considerable degree of ambiguity about the villains’ motivations, and even about certain central characters like Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki. This adds a certain degree of charm and intrigue to the plot of Prisoners that glues the audience to it.

With all of these factors going for it, along with stunning cinematography and an eerie score, it is no wonder that Prisoners received such critical acclaim. It is also no wonder, then, that it is considered one of the more defining movies of 2013.