What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Prisoners is a brutally intense crime thriller/revenge film starring Hugh Jackman. Characters make unthinkable choices to find their missing kids, and there's frequent bloody violence. In addition to the central kidnapping of two little girls, people are shot and killed (or kill themselves), beaten to an unrecognizable pulp, and tortured in various ways. One man shoots himself in the head, and a police officer must shoot a suspect. There's frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole"), as well as excessive alcohol use by adults and some use of pills and other drugs. The movie's disturbing themes and unflinching violence make it best suited for adults and possibly some very mature teens.
Families can talk about the popularity of revenge movies, particularly ones in which fathers take justice into their own hands to save their kids. Why do these movies speak to audiences? Do the ends ever justify the means?
What is Prisoners saying about morality and justice? How is Keller's vigilantism depicted? Is he intended to be a sympathetic character?
The two fathers are portrayed as foils: One is willing to do something illegal/immoral for the sake of finding his daughter, while the other doesn't want to cross any lines. Which one did you find more believable? Does the film "judge" either man?
Discuss the role of gender in the story. Which characters acted like stereotypical men or women? Which characters twisted the traditional associations with a particular gender?