Viau’s View/Scott Viau

What would you do if your child vanished and the police were unable to arrest the person you believed responsible? Some may sit and sulk, others may take matters into their own hands. “Prisoners” takes this idea and expands it into a two-and-a-half crime drama that will have viewers on the edge of their seats.

Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, an all-around family man who has a lot of love for those close to him. He’s also a stern man who expects his family to follow what he says. During a Thanksgiving dinner at his friends’ house, any parent’s nightmare soon comes to fruition when Dover realizes that his daughter and his friend’s have gone missing after they asked to go outside. When a man driving a suspicious RV?becomes the prime suspect (played with creepy perfection by Paul Dano) in the investigation, but is unable to be charged due to lack of evidence, Dover takes matters into his own hands, despite not knowing with any certainty that who he has is the person who kidnapped the little girls.

“Prisoners”?does what any good movie should do:?it makes us challenge our notions of right and wrong and makes us think about what we would do in a similar situation. There are plenty of cues throughout the movie that the suspect did indeed kidnap the girls, but there’s nothing concrete that can actually pin him down. When Dover decides to take matters into his own hand, viewers will probably be on his side at first, hoping that his actions will give him some insight into the disappearance of the girls, but things don’t come quite as easy for Dover.

The performances in “Prisoners” are all top notch, with an especially excellent one coming from Melissa Leo, who I?didn’t even recognize under all her make up. Gyllenhaal also holds his own quite well against his co-stars as an unconventional cop who does his best to find out the truth.

Ultimately, what “Prisoners” is about is what we allow ourselves to be held captive to. Sometimes it’s revenge, sometimes it’s the truth. For others, it’s grief or fear. We are all held prisoner in one way or another and “Prisoners”?does an excellent job of bringing this point home.

I?don’t see it making a lot of headway when awards season rolls around, but “Prisoners”?is a very good drama strengthened by strong performances and a compelling story.