Prisoners - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Prisoners Reviews

Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Grantland
October 4, 2013
Jackman is still in his phase of high-masculine misery... The entire performance is an exclamation point, and he swings it like a baseball bat.
Top Critic
David Thomson
The New Republic
September 26, 2013
Prisoners is weary after ten minutes, and I suppose it has persuaded itself that its length is justified by its solemn gaze into the abyss.
Top Critic
Jocelyn Noveck
Associated Press
September 24, 2013
In less talented hands, the story could lapse into the maudlin. But Villeneuve, director of the Oscar-nominated Incendies, seems to know just how far to go; only one moment feels less than authentic, but it would be a spoiler to mention it.
Top Critic
Christy Lemire
ChristyLemire.com
September 22, 2013
It's got lofty aspirations but it also wants to wallow in the muck - to thrill you and sicken you in equal measure while also being About Something.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Christopher Orr
The Atlantic
September 20, 2013
Ethical exploration or exploitation? In the end, I come down reservedly on the former side: the work done here by Jackman, Gyllenhaal, and especially Villeneuve is simply too powerful to ignore.
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
September 20, 2013
Prisoners is unforgettably relentless in asking moviegoers if Keller has gone too far. And, by extension, asking us how far we would go.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
September 20, 2013
A film that, for all its pretensions and intermittent power, is essentially high-grade claptrap.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Michael Sragow
Orange County Register
September 20, 2013
Prisoners is an overblown missing-children mystery that wants to comment on the dysfunctional soul of America.
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
September 20, 2013
Prisoners has got more pedigree than a Westminster dog-show winner. It's just not very good. In fact, it's worse than not-very-good; it's could've-been-really-good-and-isn't.
Top Critic
Sheila O'Malley
RogerEbert.com
September 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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
September 20, 2013
The film you begin watching when the lights dim is not the same one you carry home from the theatre.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
September 20, 2013
After two hours of relentless tension, Prisoners starts revealing its secrets to progressively hokier effect.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
September 20, 2013
Is it the best Hollywood mystery we've seen in awhile? Oh yes. Is it one any parent would want to see? Only if they don't mind nightmares.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
September 20, 2013
It never lets up. The cell doors never open.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
September 19, 2013
In addition to the skin-crawling camera moves and the understated dread that bolsters the surface tensions of "Prisoners" there is a fascinating actor's duel going on.
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
September 19, 2013
A film that seems headed toward one conclusion, then veers toward another over 2/₂ of the fastest-moving hours I've seen in a recent movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Cary Darling
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
September 19, 2013
Grim, gray and surprisingly gruesome, Prisoners - the director's first foray into English-language filmmaking - has its flaws, but predictability is not one of them.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 19, 2013
The plot raises complicated moral questions about how far an anguished person will go for the love of a child. At the same time, it sets up an intricate, horrifying mystery with breathtaking skill.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
September 19, 2013
"Prisoners" is a dark, deeply serious examination of how loss can unhinge us; it grabs onto you, and you may have trouble shaking it away.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
September 19, 2013
A gorgeous but manipulative thriller that wants you to ponder Big Questions as it sends a shiver down your spine.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
September 19, 2013
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 6/10
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 19, 2013
The screenplay is smart, the execution is impeccable, and the holes are few and far between.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times
September 19, 2013
One of the most intense thrillers in recent years. Best performance of Hugh Jackman's career.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 19, 2013
As gripping as it is grueling, with performances that swing for the fences and a knotty central mystery.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Mara Reinstein
Us Weekly
September 19, 2013
A frustrating puzzle in which the pieces don't quite fit together
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 19, 2013
It's a potboiler premise, but in this uncompromisingly dark telling it veers from the procedural to something deeper and more tragic.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Peter Hartlaub
San Francisco Chronicle
September 19, 2013
Even when audiences start to question the logical leaps, the performances and visuals remain first-rate. The movie doesn't feel bloated. And the final scenes are anything but a cop-out.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
September 19, 2013
It's easy to make a thriller. It's hard to make one that says something about human nature and then, like the hauntingly compelling "Prisoners," finds something inside the genre that validates tying your nerves up in knots.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
September 19, 2013
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.
| Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
David Hiltbrand
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 19, 2013
A devastating psychological thriller, Prisoners pulls us deep into our worst fear: the Amber Alert. Then it holds us under.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
September 19, 2013
A grade-A genre exercise - but it's a genre predicated on specious reasoning and promiscuous, pseudo-sacrificial suffering.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 19, 2013
Director Denis Villeneuve's work with the exemplary actors results in a film of startling impact, packed with twists you don't see coming. You can't shake it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
September 19, 2013
Throughout this beautifully made, slightly specious exercise in Old Testament revenge, the character-study aspects of "Prisoners" coexist intriguingly with the grisly-inhumanity components.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
September 19, 2013
Hugh Jackman gives the performance of his career as a father seeking two kidnapped girls in Denis Villeneuve's taut thriller.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
September 19, 2013
Though it's nothing you haven't seen before, it's so artfully made and skillfully executed that you won't care a bit.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
September 19, 2013
It's preposterous schlock masquerading as art.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
September 19, 2013
Prisoners uncoils with a serpent's stealth - and strikes just as suddenly.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Andrea Gronvall
Chicago Reader
September 19, 2013
[An] exquisitely calibrated thriller.
Top Critic
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
September 19, 2013
"Prisoners" is, above all, an effective thriller, but it wants you to take it more seriously than that. There's no deal-breaking reason not to.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
September 19, 2013
While the movie is certainly less than the sum of its referents, it nonetheless works as a formally controlled genre piece.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
September 18, 2013
It's the imitation-David Fincher pretentiousness that gets on my nerves.
Top Critic
Amy Nicholson
L.A. Weekly
September 18, 2013
Prisoners is a dog whistle for Academy voters keyed to a pitch that screams, "For the love of God, nominate me for something!"
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Charlie McCollum
San Jose Mercury News
September 18, 2013
This is a powerful, engrossing film that transcends the normal constraints of its genre and is worth your investment of both time and attention.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
September 18, 2013
Prepare to be electrified! When it comes to thrillers, Prisoners is the must-see sensation of the year.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Keith Uhlich
Time Out
September 17, 2013
You never sense that any of the players is inhabiting a character. Instead they seem to be dispiritedly reading lines off of an internal teleprompter ...
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
September 17, 2013
A sombrely impressive thriller in the style of Mystic River and Zodiac.
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
September 16, 2013
Villeneuve is trying like hell to elevate what turns out to be a dumb genre picture...Prisoners is a long sentence.
Top Critic
Todd Gilchrist
TheWrap
September 15, 2013
a movie whose execution and performances are admirable, but its eventual concession to monologuing villains and life-or-death standoffs undermines the honest and substantive character work that precedes it.
Top Critic
A.A. Dowd
AV Club
September 13, 2013
In any case, the crowd I watched it with sat in awed, tense silence throughout-a mighty good sign that a thriller is doing its job.
Full Review | Original Score: b+
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
September 9, 2013
It's rooted in 40 years of Hollywood revenge films, yet it also breaks audacious new ground.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
Top Critic
William Goss
Film.com
September 5, 2013
Denis Villeneuve's film requires and rewards your attention in equal measure.
Top Critic
Scott Foundas
Variety
September 3, 2013
A spellbinding, sensationally effective thriller with a complex moral center that marks a grand-slam English-lingo debut for the gifted Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve.
Top Critic
Stephen Farber
Hollywood Reporter
September 3, 2013
Viewers who see the movie will find it absolutely riveting, and this is a tribute to the filmmaker's skill and to the excellent cast that brings the story to life.
Top Critic
Eric Kohn
indieWIRE
August 31, 2013
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.
Full Review | Original Score: B+