Two young girls vanish in front of their house in the suburbs in midday. The only clue pointing to their whereabouts is a white van parked in the street but no one knows to whom it belongs.
Early on in the investigation an unlikely suspect emerges, one supposedly with the IQ of a ten year-old. A young detective with a perfect record assigned to the case divides his time between following the limited leads and trailing the father of one of the girls after the main suspect disappears.
As I was watching, the plot of Prisoners kept reminding me of the novel Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag, among other things because of the unassuming nature of the suspects and ultimately of the killer. I have to say that the screenplay was successful in not giving much away. I couldn't figure out the culprit before the end but I'm glad they didn't make it up; the killer was there all along.
Despite a star-studded cast composed by Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo and Jake Gyllenhaal, Jackman and Gyllenhaal virtually own the movie, the former as an enraged father and the latter as a determined police detective.