Captivating watch, despite running time

Prisoners starring Maria Bello as Grace Dover and Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover. PA Photo/Entertainment One.

Prisoners starring Maria Bello as Grace Dover and Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover. PA Photo/Entertainment One.

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Although it ultimately lacks the courage of its twisted convictions, Prisoners is a provocative thriller.

It is about a father who takes justice into his own hands when his little girl is abducted at Thanksgiving. The subsequent quest for answers and reconciliation, regardless of the horrific consequences, will strike a deep chord with parents.

Prisoners is technically polished and director Villeneuve composes some stunning images with cinematographer Roger Deakins, bleached of colour and hope.

Guzikowski’s script pushes Keller to the edge of the abyss then curiously leaves him standing there for the final hour, throwing in numerous plot twists and another suspect (David Dastmalchian) to delay the father’s fall from grace.

Jackman is mesmerising as a protector willing to ignore his moral compass to reunite his fractured family.

Gyllenhaal invests his rebellious cop with an array of twitches and ticks that hint at rage bubbling beneath the surface while Dano is both pathetic and creepy as a man-child, whose innocence remains shrouded in doubt until the tricksy closing frames.