Generally favorable reviews - based on 46 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 491 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , , ,
  • Summary: How far would you go to protect your family? Keller Dover is facing every parent's worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki arrests its driver, Alex Jones, but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child's life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 46
  2. Negative: 1 out of 46
  1. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Sep 19, 2013
    Exciting, terrifying, worrisome stuff saturates every second of Prisoners, holding you captive, keeping you guessing until the bitter end.
  2. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Aug 31, 2013
    The picture is often graphic and pulls no punches in its disturbing violence, but its unflinching nature gives it a memorable sear that won't soon be forgotten.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Sep 19, 2013
    Prisoners is infused with a poetic intensity that's rare in American thrillers. The closest cinematic comparisons would be "Zodiac," "In the Bedroom" and "Mystic River."
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Sep 19, 2013
    It's difficult to remember a recent movie that soared so high, before plummeting with a series of bad story choices. But the end result is still a strong piece of cinema, a failure only if you dwell on what might have been.
  5. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Sep 19, 2013
    Don’t get me wrong, I like trash just fine, and the twisty-loo, triple-abduction plot of Prisoners certainly kept me watching to the end. (You’ll figure out some of screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski’s plot twists, but not all of them.) It’s the imitation-David Fincher pretentiousness that gets on my nerves.
  6. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Sep 20, 2013
    Aspects of Prisoners are effective, but for the most part it's rather ridiculous (despite the fact that it clearly wants to be taken super-seriously), and there's an overwrought quality to much of the acting.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Sep 19, 2013
    It’s preposterous schlock masquerading as art.

See all 46 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 131
  1. Feb 3, 2014
    'Prisoners' deals with kidnappings and serial killers. But there's a twist. This time the father of the abducted child loses hope in the law and runs an investigation in parallel with the police.

    Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is an ordinary father until his daughter is picked up in the vicinity of his house along with the daughter of his good friend Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard). At first he trusts in the detective assigned to the case, David Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), to find their daughters. But when the man suspected in the kidnapping, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), is released due to lack of evidence, he takes matters into his own hands and abducts him in turn. Dover devises crueller forms of torture when Alex doesn't budge. The Birches get involved. Dover tries his best to keep his imprisonment of Alex a secret.

    Two cases attract Loki's attention as he looks for the girls. The connection between them and the main case becomes apparent as the plot advances. A man runs from him during a candlelight vigil for the girls. He has a sketch made and hunts for him earnestly.

    There are a few red herrings and then a few Chekhov's guns. There are a few clues for those who keep a watchful eye. By the time the movie ends you feel sorry for some characters you might have been hating until that point. Unfortunately, not much can be revealed about that without risking to spoil the whole experience for the viewer. Prisoners is the sort of film that forces you to think about it for a while after you're done watching. There were a few puzzles I was still mulling over in my head and had to discuss with people to get their take on it. But rest assured that everything that is worth including is included in the theatrical edition.

    The two investigations eventually end up at the same place, and the ending is bittersweet. I think it was well done, contrary to what everyone else has been saying about it.

    Roger Deakins lives up to his name. Every scene was exquisitely shot. The film was well edited. At a running time of two hours and twenty six minutes, Prisoners is a fast paced drama that never relents and constantly surprises and amazes at every turn. The characters were well drawn. Hugh Jackman depicts the anguish of a grieving father with poignant scenes. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays the detective as a distinct, somewhat eccentric, and extremely dedicated man married to his job. I couldn't find any weaknesses in the script. The plot only progressed after making sure that everything that could be done to find the girls had been done. There were no imbecile moves made by anyone that contributed to the advancement of the story, except perhaps for one scene near the end, where Dover turns his back on someone he had reason not to. The tension and the sense of thrill was retained through the majority of the length of the film.

    It was an intelligent film made for an intelligent and vigilant audience, but the way it was shot and edited it also held the attention of those who don't have an attention span to boast of, so the element of urgency is perhaps what may have intrigued them and kept them awake.
  2. Sep 20, 2013
    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
  3. Sep 23, 2013
    Unsettling, gloomy, grimy, atmospheric. Terrific thriller. Decent twists and turns, and overall uncomfortable feeling. What i look for in a movie. Unlike everyone else, i like long movies. Escape Expand
  4. Sep 20, 2013
    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 Expand
  5. Jan 3, 2014
    Literally just finished watching this and my heart is still racing. Jesus Christ this movie is tense.
    Hugh Jackman plays the father of one of
    two children abducted on Thanksgiving, I think that this year it's between him and Tom Hanks for Best Actor. With the exception of Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki (Best Supporting Actor 2013), the cast is reasonably unknown. That doesn't mean that they don't all do a brilliant. But there is one performance in the movie, by an actor who before watching this was unknown to me, which is amazing. Paul Dano as Alex Jones. Give that man an Oscar. No give him a new type of award which is better than an Oscar. A award or something. He plays a strange, creepy alleged pedofile who is the supposed culprit behind the kidnapping of the two girls. The one word which comes to mind when I think of his character is slimy. He's a mix of Hannibal Lecter, Gollum and the late Michael Jackson. Super creepy! I would watch the 150 minute movie all over again just for his performance. Best actor in the whole film, he totally compensates for the plot hole riddled script and some boring scenes. Much like the recent movies Captain Phillips, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty one of my favourite things about Prisoners is that it stays realistic the whole way through and does not exaggerate action scenes or the climax. This is probably why it gets slow moving and quite boring in the middle, but it's still riveting stuff overall. I am not the type of movie reviewer who pays attention to the score, however, from what I have heard it was extremely effective at building up tension and always fit the scenes it was being played too. Finally the ending is extremely hard to understand. Once I had checked that I was right on Wikipedia it made sense. But as the credits started to roll, I asked myself the question: "What the just happened"?
    Overall Prisoners is a hugely enjoyable movie. Sure it has plot holes the size of small villages and the ending isn't very easy to interpret. But those things are redeemed by Hugh Jackman's brilliant lead and Paul Dano's chilling, shiver inducing performance as the alleged pedofile who can best be described with the word: slimy. Ridiculously tense and very intelligent Prisoners is undoubtedly worth a watch.
  6. Oct 5, 2013
    Good solid movie, a bit long and unbelievable (but aren't all movies?). Just wished the ending had been a bit more satisfying IMHO it "cut off" a bit too early. Another good movie very similar to this (without as many characters) is CHAINED directed by David Lynch's daughter. It was more believable and more gut wrenching. Expand
  7. Mar 31, 2014
    this movie is Absolute waste of time .. i am so sorry for mark Wahlberg ..this movie is so much worse than movie 43. i am glad that i did not waste my money and downloaded it for free Expand

See all 131 User Reviews


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