Prisoners - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Prisoners Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 30, 2016
Outstanding acting, a tight, mesmerizing and engaging script and the directing make this one of the most exciting and best thrillers of recent years. The themes and questions raised here together with the images stay with you for a very long time. A gem of the genre.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2013
With fantastic performances (Gyllenhaal deserved an Oscar), an extremely complex script so well written in every single detail and a phenomenal direction that invests in a slow-burning tension with perfection, Prisoners is for sure one of the best films of the year.
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2014
Grim, ugly and violent. Good acting but not enjoyable as a viewing experience.
Super Reviewer
½ May 22, 2014
After a man's daughter is kidnapped, he resort to torturing the police's prime suspect in order to discover her whereabouts.
As a thriller, this film follows the basic genre conventions. It's tense, mysterious, and occasionally compelling. However, it seems the film's ambitions are beyond a basic genre film. A lot of the film's exposition establishes Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) as a survivalist -- a right-wing, anti-establishmentarian -- in order to explain his extreme behavior later. But this theme remains undeveloped. I can imagine a good film that questions whether a man's personal moral compass should override the moral compass that most reasonable people agree to, but by the second act, the film devolves into torture porn and the generic dramatic questions overtake the film's philosophical musings.
Jackman has never been an impressive actor, and what depth we see in Keller comes from the script, not his performance. The same can be said of Jake Gyllenhaal, and unfortunately the plot renders Maria Bello catatonic halfway through the film. The best performance is by Paul Dano, who never fails to impress.
Overall, as a thriller, Prisoners fits the genre, but as anything more, it's close but not quite.
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2014
Torture porn for the Daily Mail reader
Super Reviewer
February 8, 2014
Prisoners is a Mystery/Thriller film starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano. Prisoners is a film about two families who both of their daughters get kidnapped and both of the families with the help of the police, investigate and look for their daughters. This is a very dark, grim, and at times is a hard film to sit through. That being said, I have created a PainOmeter scale out of five (five being the worst) to inform you guys if you simply cannot take very violent and painful scenes. This will be addressed along will the film's final score. I loved this film! Hugh Jackman plays Anna's father and is the protagonist of the film. You can see how Jackman really loses his rag and does a great job as Keller Dover. There is one scene that involves Jackman doing something that I won't spoil but you will notice it and go WOW! The story is also very thought provoking and will keep you on the edge of your seat because of the direction and character building involved with this movie. Also Paul Dano who plays Alex Jones, is this weird adult with the IQ of a ten year old and is the main suspect of the investigation. I thought he nailed just the right tone of the character and was hard to "look at" at times. My favorite part of the film was surprisingly Jake Gyllenhaal's performance as the detective looking for the missing girls. Gyllenhaal still plays the role of a cop very well after all of that training for End Of Watch. Another great part of the film is that it manages to never take a rest on character building and story development. I hate when films give you time to take a break then start all over again and this film really avoids that entirely. I really have no problems with the film except for the runtime. Even though this was a great movie I just couldn't go for a perfect 5. 4 Stars 1-30-14
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2014
Prisoners was a great movie that seemed to get overlooked for some odd reason. Most people who didn't like it will say that it's too long or that it's too nihlistic. However, neither of those opinions seem all that valid to me. It's very much in the style of David Fincher in terms of style and pacing; it's extremely moody and slow boiling. The performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal are the standouts as you'd expect, but everyone does a good job here. I enjoyed this movie not just for the strong narrative and characters, but the cinematography and attention to detail is amazing. The initial reaction to the movie as a whole can be a little jarring because it's so intense and dark, but it's definitely a soon to be cult classic once people get around to seeing it.
Super Reviewer
½ October 16, 2013
"Prisoners," from Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, is a masterfully constructed slow-burn thriller that is every bit as detailed in it's fantastic scripting as it is in Roger Deakins' masterful photography.

A depressive tone and unrelenting sense of dread are hard to shake. Hugh Jackman gives a fierce, disturbing, career best turn here, and Gyllenhaal deserves an Oscar for his twitchy, intense work. He's never been better. If the film's conclusion seems a bit cold and unrewarding, it's simply because Villeneuve's film is most interested in the buildup; the dank trek through suburbia at it's most horrifying that refuses to break from it's established nihilism. Such brilliant execution and moral complexity works wonders in a film that is on a par with genre greats "Gone Baby Gone" and TV's The Killing.

"Prisoners" is a bold film that stands on it's own two feet. It is a little too long, but it's Villeneuve's dedication to "taking it slow" that renders this unrelenting picture so memorable, and one of 2013's very best.
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2013
I love these kind of thrillers: dark, mature, sophisticated, and with enough complexity to make you think. It's not just there to surprise you and be done with it. There's layers to each character and they leave it up to the viewer to decide what is right and wrong and who has gone too far. The acting in this is great and might get some Oscar attention later on this year. My only complaint is that the movie isn't exactly the freshest movie in the world, but it is so well made and acted that I absorbed the entire two and a half hours and wanted more. It went by way too fast and keeps you engaged the whole time thanks to great twists and turns in the plot. That's the sign of a good film to me.
Super Reviewer
September 19, 2013
Dark, eerie... and at times, hard to follow.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2013
'Prisoners'. A snaking screenplay that plays on fears and desperation in an agonisingly captivating way. Jackman and Gyllenhaal are great!

The cinematography stands out too, and of course, as the credits started rolling, Roger A. Deakins' name appears.
Super Reviewer
December 25, 2013
The story here was par excellence, though with some inconsistencies. But what marred the experience (in my case) was the casting and performances. Celebrated as the actors may be, they didn't seem to fit in here. There's a bit of problem with the execution too. Not that it spoils the entire experience, but it may have been much more worthwhile with some better set of film cast and crew. 4/5 for its storyline alone. Watchable piece for what it is.
Super Reviewer
December 17, 2013
In 2011, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies" received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film. For that, he depicted a family that ventured on a journey of discovery. In "Prisoners", Villeneuve turns his eye to another bleak family drama where 'discovery' is, once again, the driving force behind his characters' motivations.

After a thanksgiving meal, two young girls go missing. The fathers of the girls, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) refuse to accept the procedure of the police in their investigation and take it upon themselves to be very active in the manhunt. When the main suspect (Paul Dano) is released from custody, Keller takes extreme measures in finding the answers to his daughters whereabouts.

Set in a cold, working class, Northwestern town, the look and feel for "Prisoners" is established from the off-set. It's harsh and bleak environment is reflective of the characters that inhabit it and Villeneuve wastes no time in depicting it's grim tale of child abduction. In it's early stages and premise, both of the lead actors reminded me very much of two Sean Penn films: Jackman's tortured father resembled that of Penn's character in "Mystic River" and Gyllenhaal's doggedly determined police officer echoed the work of Jack Nicholson in Penn's marvellous directorial outing "The Pledge". Like these aforementioned films, "Prisoners" benefits from being anchored by these powerful leads. I'm not normally a fan of Jackman but the man cannot be faulted here, in his ferocious turn as a protective father, stricken helpless and with no control over his situation or grief. His furious and emotional outbursts are entirely believable and Gyllenhaal's subtle ticks and repressed display of a very similar character compliments the work of Jackman. On the outskirts, an impressive supporting cast are assembled in Paul Dano; Oscar winner Melissa Leo and Nominees Viola Davis and Terrence Howard, although the very talented likes of Davis and Howard are somewhat wasted in thankless roles that don't utilise their talents to the full.

In capturing the stark environment, cinematographer Roger Deakins delivers some sublime work. In a time of recession, this small town has little or no future and it's grim reality and sense of desperation and paranoia oozes from every pore. Villeneuve also cleverly plays with time; the town has come to a standstill during the investigation and even though every day counts for the grief stricken families, time seems laborious and torturous. The twists and turns of events unfold at their own pace making this, for the most part, a very tight and involving thriller. However, at two and half hours, the film is a little overlong with the final 30 minutes consisting of some tenuous and cliched plot developments and a few too many red herrings but these only stand out because the film is so strong up until then.

A solid and unrelenting thriller that has some uncomfortable moments and an ever shifting moral compass. "Prisoners" is the perfect title in describing the entrapment - in one way or another - of each of the characters but when it comes to the audience, director Villeneuve doesn't take any.

Mark Walker
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2013
three stars
Super Reviewer
½ March 24, 2013
An extremely powerful and unforgettable thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. A real powerhouse of a drama that delivers go for the throat tension and hard-boiled suspense. A masterpiece plain and simple. An intensely character drawn, emotionally charged and expertly crafted piece of work from Director, Denis Villeneuve. Not since Mystic River has there been a film like this that totally grabs you by the heart strings and tugs on your soul and makes you feel it all the way to the end. Its unforgettably relentless and incredibly entertaining. The work here by its director and stars is just to powerful and amazing to ignore. It's award worthy for the acting alone and shines of Oscar pedigree. A tour de force of acting talent. Hugh Jackman is absolutely electrifying, he gives his most emotionally intense and powerful performance yet. Jackman gives a performance that is truly worthy of an Oscar nomination, if not a win. Jake Gyllenhaal is sensational, he gives a memorable and gripping performance. Gyllenhaal and Jackman give powerhouse performances that show us what compelling and riveting acting is at its best. Maria Bello and Viola Davis are excellent. Terrance Howard is terrific. One of 2013's ten best pictures.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2013
A hidden truth. A desperate search.

Very Good Film! This was one intense movie-going experience. Throughout the entire running time of the movie, the suspense never lets up. The plot is a wonderful puzzle, unraveling slowly to reveal hidden layers of depth and complexity. The acting was wonderful, emotional and nuanced, with some unforgettable moments. The director does an excellent job of keeping you invested in the film emotionally even through some intensely violent scenes. Its dreary setting provides no comfort, but goes hand and hand with the narrative. This film may not be for those faint of heart but should be a must see for most viewers.

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?
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2013
A suspenseful thriller that questions the methods of justice. Enriched by a gray and rainy atmosphere that externalizes the characters' inner turmoils, namely Hugh Jackman's disturbed psyche. An unconvincing closure and a prolonged running time are the stains that make it far more common and less memorable than what it could have been.
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2013
Desperately seeking his missing daughter, a father imprisons and tortures a feeble-minded suspect after the police release him without charges; meanwhile, a detective is following up other leads, and wondering where his key suspect has disappeared to. Brutal and painful to watch at times, it's an arthouse variation on a revenge/torture porn movie, motivated by a cruel moral dilemma parents will hate to contemplate.
Super Reviewer
October 7, 2013
Take the anxiety of the abduction of children seen from the parents perspective and you've got an ABC Movie Of The Week offering, circa 1975, utterly predictable, maudlin and so manipulative as to cause animosity. But add some modern day cinema violence, a overcast dreary winter mood scenario, some smoking Hollywood talent, and a few new twists and you've got a scorching hot thriller. Jackman actually out-Wolverine's Wolverine, to be seen to be believed. Good stuff.
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2013
A slog in both the best and worst sense, "Prisoners" is a beautifully shot, horrifying vision of suburbia, in which everyone has something to hide. In his first American film, Denis Villeneuve has the best of the best at his disposal, including master cinematographer Roger Deakins and one of the best casts of 2013 (a year already full of great casts). It's too long -- the kind of needless length that indicates the underlying belief that runtime somehow equals importance. Still, it left me with the sensation of being out in the cold for too long - an icky feeling, but one that deserves commendation for just how effectively it transfers itself onto the viewer.
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