“Sorry Grace, I whoop kids.” -Franklin

“Prisoners” could have been titled “Layers” as there were many of them tied together for the eventual ending. The film clocks in at 2 hours and 33 minutes and is worth every millisecond of it. “Prisoners” is also sneaky, pulse pounding and at times humorous. Religion is prevalent in the film as it begins with Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) saying “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee cast what has to be the best ensemble of this year. The main characters are Keller Dover, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), who avenges in his power to find the girls and keep his reputation of never losing a case and Alex Jones, played sensitively and remarkably by Paul Dano. Keller’s anger, passion and revenge resonate with the audience. Nancy Birch (Viola Davis) is the most irritating character. Yes, she was trying to find her baby but she overstepped her boundaries one too many times. Melissa Leo is unrecognizable and deliciously sinister as Holly Jones. Maria Bello had a great supporting role as Grace Dover, the disturbed mother who wants her child home. Terrence Howard was good as Franklin Birch and not as mentally lost to find his daughter as Keller was. Rural Pennsylvania is a character as Joy Birch and Anna Dover could have been anywhere and added to how slow the character’s lives are.

Denis Villeneuve gives extraordinary direction to the film. The weather is unbearable and constantly dreary with torrential rain. It could go with saying “ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.” The use of mise-en-scene is prevalent with scenes in the dark, through windows, through the rain, etc. Small details (Detective Loki’s constant blinking, the woods) kept focus for the drama of the story.

Theater or Home: It is best to see this film in the theater with an audience. It is a very heavy film and can be difficult to shake off.