Two little girls vanish, abducted. There's a suspect, but the police can't hold him. Time passes. The dust settles. But it's not over yet. One of the girls' fathers, enraged, turns vigilante and kidnaps the man he suspects of the crime, leading to no end of psychological mind games, and the inevitable last-minute twist.
And that's the plot of Prisoners, a spec script by first-time screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski. It's a cliché at this point to bring up Taken, but this type of revenge thriller can certainly do very well. It all depends on the who, the what, and the when.
I think we've figured out the what, and the when is looking at right around 2011 or so (October 22, 2010 was once in the cards, but that's now off the table). The real question mark right now is the who, and the film thus far has become mostly known for the various talent who have come and gone from the project. Mark Wahlberg was attached to the film early on. By April 2009, Christian Bale had evidently signed on as well, and Bryan Singer was expressing interest in directing. By the fall, it looked like Bale had vanished, and Antoine Fuqua (helmer of Training Day and Brooklyn's Finest) signed on to direct in September. Another potential star, Hugh Jackman, had been buzzed about in December, but to apparently little avail. Fuqua left the project in the early spring, and it looks like Wahlberg is now also gone. Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio had become attached on to star, just days after Shutter Island wham-bammed the box office in February. That's the story up to now, and we're just getting started.
If the DiCaprio casting holds, it will mark an interesting turn for an actor who's avoided outright commercial entertainment for well over a decade. DiCaprio's films may have often ended up with some peak box office (Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Departed), but they all leaned towards the Oscary. Prisoners, on the other hand, seems like a more straightforward Hollywood story, even if it is one with some possible prestige. Indeed, between Shutter Island and the upcoming Inception, DiCaprio seems geared up to become a regular in tight-knit thrillers.
Whether Prisoners will be one of them, though, remains to be seen. Once you're stuck in development hell, it's not always quite so easy to get out. (Michael Lynderey/BOP)
Vital statistics for Prisoners
||Warner Bros. Pictures
||Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture