Feature

Prisoners

The father of a missing girl goes to extremes.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve(R)

***

This thriller about a dad gone atavistic “speaks to our time as intensely as the pitch-dark vigilante thrillers of the ’70s once spoke to theirs,” said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. Hugh Jackman is “staggering” in the central role: When his 6-year-old daughter and a friend disappear one Thanksgiving Day, this previously gentle protector kidnaps and tortures the simpleton he suspects of abducting them. He’s a man with nothing to believe in but himself, and the territory he enters is terrifying. But when other critics tout this overlong melodrama as an early Oscar favorite, “don’t buy the hype,” said Richard Corliss in Time. Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano are all highly effective in supporting roles, but Jackman is “saddled with ludicrous lines” throughout, and the movie’s “grand-opera” structure is the price we pay for some truly surprising twists. Still, “the crowd I watched it with sat in awed, tense silence” for all two and a half hours, said A.A. Dowd in the A.V. Club. The plot “grows increasingly far-fetched as it progresses but never quite loses its darkly magnetic pull.”

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