PRISONERS (15) Pavilion, Galashiels

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Two little girls. They were here minutes ago. They were only going down the road to Elisa’s house. They do it all the time.

In every mother’s nightmare, this cry is heard. And then they wake up.

For the Dovers and the Birches, there is no waking. Their daughters have disappeared.

Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) has never lost a case. What they mean is that he has never given up on a case. But he’s an intense, difficult SOB, who doesn’t communicate easily, and these families want results, like yesterday.

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is the kind of man who makes up his mind and acts instinctively. The authorities can go hang. Franklin Birch (Terence Howard) is law abiding, careful, African American. He prefers to trust the professionals.

Prisoners ticks every box –vigilante thriller, kidnapping drama, mentally unsound prime suspect – which implies a been-there-done-that, cliche-clogged, run-of-the-gun, mainstream movie with the same old tramlines leading to the same old destination.

It’s nothing of the kind.

For one thing, French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) knows exactly how to ratchet up the fear factor and booby trap expectation with nasty, explosive touches.

He is ruthless in his attack on mediocrity. This is a dark and dangerous journey with no guarantee of success.

Jackman is fierce. Gyllenhaal, pictured below, is mesmerising. The plot surprises in ways that messes with your head.

Anything is possible; no one is safe. And there is violence, torture ...

Adrenaline rushes through the body – your body. The good and the bad merge. Remember to breathe.