User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 540 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 20 out of 540

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  1. Sep 22, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I found Prisoners to be an engrossing and tense movie of the darker nature that breaks boundaries involving what otherwise decent people might do in extremely emotional situations. The performances are good and I recommend the movie however (spoiler alert!!) I thought there were two substantial red herrings which purposely distract you away from the real truth about the perpetrators and their motives which is somewhat incredulous (this is being done to turn people away from God).
    The first involves Alex who because of what he initially does when confronted by police which is unexplained (and why is he driving a RV in the first place)? Then, because of what he says and sings, the viewer is led to suspect him as does the parent who tortures him for the truth that he suspects Alex knows.
    The second character thought to be involved is some type of exceptional copy cat who does all that he can to make himself suspicious and yet is not really involved. There is a lot of confusion about what he knows combined with mazes/maps that actually have no connection to the movie as a whole. I missed the connection between his maze diagram and a medallion worn by one of the perpetrators but the coincidence is strikingly present and yet not connected to the true nature of the actual crime at all.
    So, although I liked the movie, I felt I was purposely distracted and misled in two separate methods that made me suspect the wrong individuals, much as the parent and the detective did, while in the end these two story threads turned out to be unrelated to the actual crime in any way. It's like the movie purposely fooled around with me so that I couldn't make conclusions as I watched it. But, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the viewing.
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  2. Sep 22, 2013
    5
    'Prisoners' is a very moody film, beautifully shot, acted and suspenseful. HOWEVER, unlike the movies to which it's been compared to by some (Mystic River, Silence of Lambs, Zodiac), Prisoners also borderlines on the 'ridiculous.' There are a lot of 'holes' in the story/plot that ultimately disappoint. In terms of story I would say that this film is more like a hybrid of: "The Lovely Bones" "Mystic River" and "Extremities"
    (which starred Farah Fawcet). Overall, it's a worthwhile film for the performances and cinematography. The movie could have been great had it been edited down and fleshed out a bit more.
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  3. Sep 22, 2013
    9
    Prisoners is one of those movies that keeps your eyes glued to the screen throughout the whole thing, and when the movie ends, you want more. Hugh Jackman's performance is Oscar-Worthy and Jake Gyllanhaal is amazing, too. With a thought-provoking story in hand, the movie finds ways to use suspense and a great score to back it up. The movie could've been edited a little bit, but other than that, this was a riveting drama that has a complex story at its core, and is extremely hard to forget, and is one of the best movies of 2013. Bravo. Expand
  4. Sep 22, 2013
    10
    It may be a complete gut punch of a movie at times, but that's the entire appeal of this almost faultlessly acted, shot, directed, written, and executed chiller/thriller.
  5. Sep 22, 2013
    10
    Absolutely the best film of the year so far. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Great writing and acting(by jackman, gyllenhaal, and dano especially). The shocking ending left me really thinking about the movie. Highly recommended.
  6. Sep 21, 2013
    1
    I absolutely hated this movie.
    Judging by the critic reviews, it only got a high score from them because it's pretty and the style is interesting, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that all the user scores are so high.

    I will admit that it's a visually pleasing movie, but not only does the mediocre plot drag on forever, it also relies on cheap tricks (like the plot
    "twist" near the end) and doesn't fill the expectations built up in the trailer (the truth behind the story was completely unbelievable)

    And even though most people seem to think the characters are well thought through, all I saw was tropes. Hugh Jackman's character is the ruthless badass who'd do anything to protect his child, his wife is a stereotypical mother, doing nothing but crying for her lost child.
    Detective Loki is the excellent detective with no social life, and the villains are your cookie cutter Hollywood serial killers.
    Joy's parents seemed to be the only characters who weren't one dimensional, yet they had some of the least screen time.

    One could argue that it's more about the message than the story itself, but an interesting message doesn't make up for a drab plot and poor character design.
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  7. Sep 21, 2013
    10
    Wow! Just Wow! "Prisoners" is a dark and grimacing movie. It doesn't really show how Keller (Hugh Jackman) really wants his daughter back so to say, it shows even more grimace and more depth in the horror of what is one to do. Hugh Jackman is the heart of this story. He brings on the true grit of his character which was fantastic. I think he should get another Oscar nod. Plus it has great cinematography and a fantastic script to work off of. Overall, it's truly one of the best movies of the year/If not, the best movie of the year. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel "TheMovieManLife" for all things movies. Expand
  8. Sep 20, 2013
    9
    Prisoners is a violent and disturbing look at the blurry lines between good and bad people couched in an engaging (and unsettling) kidnapper subplot. Villeneuve’s film should have no trouble pleasing moviegoers who are up for a dark and insightful exploration of human behavior setoff by one of our culture’s most detestable criminal actions. Action fans are better off sticking with the Taken series, but thriller and drama enthusiasts should find plenty of powerful performances and rich story material to make Prisoners an exhilarating and penetrating theater experience. Expand
  9. Sep 20, 2013
    9
    Prisoners is a dark and dreary, but fantastic thriller. The acting is superb and the script has many captivating twists and turns. It could be a tad shorter, but overall one of the best films of 2013. A
  10. Sep 20, 2013
    10
    Despite using a ton of name-brand actors it has almost no hollywoodisms to an uncomfortable degree. It feels so real that it's difficult to watch. One of the tensest things I've ever seen. Beyond being a great thriller, it also engages with larger issues that have been touched on in previous films like Zero Dark Thirty and Munich, namely: even if justified, what damage does vengeance or torture do to us as a society when we carry them out? Expand
  11. Sep 20, 2013
    9
    Hugh Jackman cements his position as one of top A list actors with his riveting performance in “Prisoners”. The opening scene is him teaching his son to shoot a deer and tells him “Be ready”. Keller Dover (Jackman) first appears to be a survivalist with a basement filled with shelves as part of being ready. He seems to a Right wing Conservative who has been a recovering alcoholic for nine and a half years, praying on and off but little by little your first impression changes. He and his wife, Grace, (Maria Bello) with their 6 year old daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and son Ralph (Dylan Minnette) are having Thanksgiving dinner with Franklin (Terrence Howard) and Nancy (Viola Davis) Birch their 7 year old daughter Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons) and Eliza Birch (Zoe Borde). After dinner their two young daughters go outside only to disappear.

    The first, and obvious, suspect is a mentally impaired man Alex (Paul Dano), who lives with his Aunt Holly Jones (Melissa Leo). The girls are seen playing and starting to climb his RV earlier.He lives, sleeping on a sofa bed, in his aunt’s home, her husband having left 5 years earlier. Loki, (Jake Gyllenhaal) the detective in charge of the case, who has solved every case he has been in charge of, is first seen eating his Thanksgiving dinner alone in a diner and next arresting and questioning Alex. He has to let him go as their is no evidence he is involved.

    Keller believes Alex is guilty and wants to know where he has taken the girls and threatens to torture him until he confesses. He takes Alex off to a house in complete disrepair that he use to own and ties him up in a small room. He brings Franklin in with him who is repulsed by the whole idea but wants his child back. Needless to say both families are affected by the kidnapping and possible death of their children.

    “Prisoners” is rated R for violence and there are a couple of scenes some will hide their eyes from watching it plus the “F” word seems to be a major part of Loki’s speech. There are a couple of unnecessary red herrings that makes the movie run 2 hours and 20 minute, a bit too long, but the director Denis Villeneuve, along with screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski, keeps the tension and suspense going with a somewhat ambiguous ending. Don’t let the violence deter from seeing the “Prisoners”.

    The cast is first rate but it is Hugh Jackman’s picture and he takes it to the depths that very few actors could.
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  12. Sep 20, 2013
    10
    Prisoners is a riveting, potent abduction thriller with an ominous demeanor and intelligent direction that makes its dark subject matter uneasy, yet enticing to watch. The performances are also gripping and exciting, especially Hugh Jackman who gives a performance for the ages, one of memorable and award winning caliber.
  13. Sep 20, 2013
    10
    Prisoners is a deep dark film, with a first rate cinematography, breathtaking performances, riveting editing, incredible dialog, and pretty much one of the best movies of all year. What makes this movie distinctive, is the opening silent sequence, the atmosphere its self, it is chilling and a gripping thriller, it is a tense talk film that kept me at the edge of my seat. It is maybe the best performance ever coming from Hugh Jackman, he is magnificent in this movie, the villains and the good ones, everyone in this movie has something wrong with them, and this is one of the things that I loved in this film. Prisoners is one of the best movies all year and highly recommended, I loved Prisoners. Expand
Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 46 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 46
  2. Negative: 1 out of 46
  1. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Sep 30, 2013
    88
    Is torture ever justifiable? A twisty, compelling, brilliantly acted (if sometimes difficult to watch) thriller, Prisoners, asks this question not in the usual contemporary context — anti-terrorism — but instead as a gruesome option deployed as a response to every parent’s worst nightmare.
  2. Reviewed by: Emma Dibdin
    Sep 25, 2013
    80
    A simmering pressure cooker of a thriller, Prisoners is an unforgiving but emotionally rewarding experience sustained by powerhouse performances, taut scripting and Villeneuve’s tonally assured direction.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Sep 25, 2013
    89
    It's a veritable shoo-in for an Oscar nod this year, and one of the more disturbing films to come out of a major studio in ages.