Prisoners is a devastating ordeal through the Villeneuve's impressionistic prism. It's a testament to all involved that you want to revisit the ugliness of the story for the artistry of its construction.
Denis Villeneuve made the Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee Incendies, but his American debut Prisoners just reheats the heavy-handed, high-gloss revenge porn of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the aforementioned Mystic River.
Like a more downbeat Zodiac, Prisoners is a rich, expansive procedural revolving around a horrible crime in which a satisfactory resolution only seems to get further away from its protagonists the more they obsess over the case.
It's impossible to ignore that you are looking at unspeakable cruelty which, even if justifiable, must be ruinous to the soul of the wielder. You expect that to become the theme of the film, but, astonishingly, it never does.
If there is one thing above all else to recommend Prisoners, it's the way it captures that white-hot skewer of fear that must run through the heart and mind of every parent who has ever suddenly looked around them and thought, "where's my kid?"