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?









Film information

Genre: , ,
Starring: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Release date: Sep 20, 2013
MPAA rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout
Official website:
Runtime: 153 min
Movie Reviews:
  • 100
    New York Observer - by Rex Reed
    When it comes to thrillers, this one is as good as it gets. Not for the squeamish, but for anyone who loves movies, it’s too exhilarating to miss. more

  • 100
    Entertainment Weekly - by Owen Gleiberman
    The thriller that's exciting, cathartic, and powerfully disturbing. Prisoners is that type of movie. It's rooted in 40 years of Hollywood revenge films, yet it also breaks audacious new ground. more

  • 100
    The Hollywood Reporter - by Stephen Farber
    Prisoners can at times be a hard film to watch, but thanks to all the talent involved, it’s even harder to shake off. more

  • 100
    Variety - by Scott Foundas
    A spellbinding, sensationally effective thriller with a complex moral center. more

  • 90
    The New York Times - by A.O. Scott
    Prisoners is the kind of movie that can quiet a room full of casual thrill-seekers. It absorbs and controls your attention with such assurance that you hold your breath for fear of distracting the people on screen, exhaling in relief or amazement at each new revelation ...

  • 90
    The New Yorker - by David Denby
    Villeneuve has what I keep looking for in directors: a charged sense of the way the world actually works. more

  • 89
    Austin Chronicle - by Marc Savlov
    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. more

  • 88
    New York Post - by Lou Lumenick
    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. more

  • 88
    ReelViews - by James Berardinelli
    The cast is remarkable. Five of the seven principal cast members own previous Oscar nominations. more

  • 88
    Chicago Sun-Times - by Richard Roeper
    Even with the stretched-out running time, Prisoners is one of the most intense moviegoing experiences of the year. You’ll never forget it. more

  • 88
    Rolling Stone - by Peter Travers
    Some will write off Prisoners as shameless exploitation. But like Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River," to which it's been compared, Prisoners is so artfully shaped and forcefully developed that objections fade. more

  • 84 - by William Goss
    Rarely a moment is ever wasted, a consequence ignored, and though the climax is a corker, the final shot is even better. Prisoners requires and rewards your attention in equal measure. Be ready. more

  • 83
    indieWIRE - by Eric Kohn
    Before all else, Villneuve's grim chronicle of the fallout when two young girls vanish in a small town succeeds at crafting one powerfully suspenseful moment after another. more

  • 80
    Total Film - by Emma Dibdin
    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. more

  • 80
    Wall Street Journal - by John Anderson
    There's a near-sacred history in Hollywood of non-U.S.- born directors providing fresh perspectives on America. Miloš Forman. Alfred Hitchcock. Ang Lee. Ernst Lubitsch. Billy Wilder. For Prisoners, a stress-inducing trip into child abduction, the director is Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who gives us an American "hero" guaranteed to push many buttons, many times, and who might not have been allowed to be quite so awful, under a different director's lens. more

  • 80
    New York Daily News - by Joe Neumaier
    Dano, Bello, Howard, Davis and Leo — the last nearly unrecognizable — are equally strong. Villeneuve, whose last film was the Oscar-nominated “Incendies,” uses them all perfectly, and Prisoners works best when it’s not what you thought it was going to be. But even on familiar ground, it’s hard to let go of. more

  • 80
    Arizona Republic - by Bill Goodykoontz
    Oh, and the title? It could be an apt description for almost any character in the movie at one time or another. The satisfaction is in finding out who, if anyone, will be set free. ...

  • 80
    The Guardian - by Paul MacInnes
    In his first English language film, Quebeçois director Denis Villeneuve has produced a masterful thriller that is also an engrossing study of a smalltown America battered by recession, fear and the unrelenting elements. more

  • 75
    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) - by Liam Lacey
    Subtly crafted and compelling, but it suffers from a case of split personality. more

  • 75
    Boston Globe - by Ty Burr
    As gripping as it is grueling, with performances that swing for the fences and a central mystery that seems an unresolvable tangle of knots until those knots come undone in a somewhat forced final act. ...

  • 75
    Philadelphia Inquirer - by David Hiltbrand
    A devastating psychological thriller, Prisoners pulls us deep into our worst fear: the Amber Alert. Then it holds us under. more

  • 75
    Charlotte Observer - by Lawrence Toppman
    Roger Deakins, probably the best living cinematographer never to win an Oscar (he’s 0-for-10), was behind the camera. So the picture never lets us down visually, even when the story occasionally strays. more

  • 75
    Chicago Tribune - by Michael Phillips
    Some will take it and like it, all the way to the heart of darkness. Others may feel they've been jacked with, manipulated. Villeneuve collaborates with unusual sensitivity with his actors. The script operates on one level; the interpreters on another, higher level. more

  • 75
    Movie Nation - by Roger Moore
    Prisoners is never less than engrossing. It’ll keep you guessing. It’s just too bad that the last thirty minutes make us feel like the prisoners, here. more

  • 70
    The Dissolve - by Noel Murray
    What makes Prisoners more potent than its oft-implausible mystery should allow is the way Villeneuve lingers over the textures of a terrible event. more

  • 67
    Christian Science Monitor - by Peter Rainer
    For all its pretensions and intermittent power, is essentially high-grade claptrap. more

  • 67
    Portland Oregonian - by M. E. Russell
    At its best, Prisoners dwells on the ways the characters affected by the case are held mentally captive -- by conviction, compulsion, procedure, skewed beliefs, rage, and grief -- and how each character's blind spot and/or maniacal focus furthers or frustrates the search for the girls. more

  • 67
    The A.V. Club - by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    It makes for a compelling viewing experience, thanks to Villeneuve’s formal chops and the uniformly strong performances. more

  • 63
    Miami Herald - by Rene Rodriguez
    Too bad, then, that after two hours of such relentless tension, Prisoners starts revealing its secrets to progressively hokier effect. more

  • 63
    Slant Magazine - by Ed Gonzalez
    Possibly year's most immaculate-looking drivel, a prismatically shot whodunit abundant in red herrings, but lacking in moral contemplation. more

  • 60
    Empire - by Dan Jolin
    A decent, cogent, greyly atmospheric thriller with something to say about War-On-Terror America. more

  • 60
    NPR - by Ian Buckwalter
    Loki is a skilled creation, but lacking that sense of why, it's hard not to think of him as an artistic construct rather than a character. The same goes for Prisoners, a work of impressive craftsmanship that winds up making us think too much about how it was fashioned rather than what it has to say. more

  • 60
    Time Out New York - by Keith Uhlich
    The uniformly showy performances (Acting with a capital ‘A’) are what do in Prisoners more than anything. more

  • 60
    Time - by Richard Corliss
    This is the rough cut of a good movie, and a splendid opportunity wasted. more

  • 50
    Washington Post - by Ann Hornaday
    Try as it might to entertain serious notions of manhood, evil and original sin, Prisoners works most effectively as Hollywood hypocrisy at its most sleek, efficient and meretricious. It’s stylish, high-minded hokum. more

  • 50
    Tampa Bay Times - by Steve Persall
    It is well acted bunk, led by Hugh Jackman's righteous raging as the father of a missing girl, abducting a suspect (Paul Dano) to pummel and scald a confession from him. If only solving the case and ending this movie sooner was that simple. more

  • 50
    New York Magazine (Vulture) - by David Edelstein
    Villeneuve is trying like hell to elevate what turns out to be a dumb genre picture. more

  • 40
    Village Voice - by Amy Nicholson
    Torn between making sense and arguing that the world itself makes no sense, Prisoners is a captive of its own ambitions. more

  • 40
    The Telegraph - by Tim Robey
    Flexing some of that Jean Valjean resolve, but with a payload of untrammelled, Wolverine-like rage behind it, Jackman comes closest to shouldering the movie, without ever seriously threatening to make it work. ...

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User Comments & Reviews

  1. Liana Shimunova

    A good film with a shoddy ending that keeps it from being great.