09/20/2013 10:17 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2013

"Prisoners" is Hauntingly Effective

Movie Review Jackie K Cooper
"Prisoners" (Warner Brothers)

"Prisoners" is a movie that is difficult to watch and difficult to forget. Scenes from the movie stay with you even after you have ventured forward into the clear light of day. The subject matter is haunting in and of itself as it concerns the disappearance of two girls, 6 and 7 years of age. This is a parent's worst nightmare and this film stresses that anguish and pain over and over again.

The film focuses on two sets of friends. The Dover family consists of Keller (Hugh Jackman), his wife Grace (Maria Bello), their son Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich). They are friends with the Birch family which consists of Franklin (Terrence Howard), his wife Nancy (Viola Davis), their older daughter Eliza (Zoe Borde) and their younger daughter Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons).

The two families, who live close to each other, get together at the Birch's for Thanksgiving dinner. In the afternoon the two younger girls want to go back to the Dover's house to look for a whistle. They are told to get their two older siblings to go with them but they fail to do so. Later the girls are discovered missing and can't be found anywhere in the neighborhood. They are later presumed to be kidnapped.

The police are called and Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) comes out to handle their concerns. He soon makes a connection about an RV that was parked near the Birch's house. After a brief investigation he takes in for questioning Alex Jones (Paul Dano) who was the operator of the RV. Jones lives with his Aunt Holly (Melissa Leo) who reveals that he has the intelligence capacity of a ten year old.

As the investigation continues and the search for the girls appears fruitless, Keller becomes more and more antagonistic against the detective. He doesn't think he is doing enough to try and find the girls and considers taking matters into his own hands.

All of this causes the movie to be terrifically intense, with one twist and turn following after another. Just when you think you know where the plot is headed it veers off into another direction. While watching the movie you are so glued to the screen and what is going on that your mind doesn't have time for questions. It is only after the film is over that you find there are questions which have not been answered.

The acting is first rate from all involved with Jackman being the best of a great group. He truly gives an award worthy performance. Of course he gets the lion's share of screen time, with Bello, Howard, Davis and Dano having much smaller roles. Gyllenhaal has a role equal in screen time to Jackman's but he doesn't come across quite as impressively.

The film is rated R for profanity and violence.

"Prisoners" will haunt your dreams and linger in your mind for days to come after you see it. It is eerie and troubling, but also spellbinding.

I scored "Prisoners" an escaped 7 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper