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Prisoners Review

Movies.com Critics

3.0

Dave White Profile

Suffer the everyone. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    74

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Variety Scott Foundas

    A spellbinding, sensationally effective thriller with a complex moral center.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly 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.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter 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.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    Time Richard Corliss

    This is the rough cut of a good movie, and a splendid opportunity wasted.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The New Yorker David Denby

    Prisoners, despite its gathering anxiety, has some of the pleasures of ordinary thrillers. But Villeneuve, who previously directed “Incendies,” does volatile scenes without exaggeration; parts of the movie are exceedingly violent, though the violence isn’t “fun” — it makes you wince.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune 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.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal 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.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The cast is remarkable. Five of the seven principal cast members own previous Oscar nominations.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    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."

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times 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.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Prisoners reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Engrossing revenge thriller is very violent and intense.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Prisoners is a brutally intense crime thriller/revenge film starring Hugh Jackman. Characters make unthinkable choices to find their missing kids, and there's frequent bloody violence. In addition to the central kidnapping of two little girls, people are shot and killed (or kill themselves), beaten to an unrecognizable pulp, and tortured in various ways. One man shoots himself in the head, and a police officer must shoot a suspect. There's frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole"), as well as excessive alcohol use by adults and some use of pills and other drugs. The movie's disturbing themes and unflinching violence make it best suited for adults and possibly some very mature teens.

  • Families can talk about the popularity of revenge movies, particularly ones in which fathers take justice into their own hands to save their kids. Why do these movies speak to audiences? Do the ends ever justify the means?

  • What is Prisoners saying about morality and justice? How is Keller's vigilantism depicted? Is he intended to be a sympathetic character?

  • The two fathers are portrayed as foils: One is willing to do something illegal/immoral for the sake of finding his daughter, while the other doesn't want to cross any lines. Which one did you find more believable? Does the film "judge" either man?

  • Discuss the role of gender in the story. Which characters acted like stereotypical men or women? Which characters twisted the traditional associations with a particular gender?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Sometimes otherwise moral people make murky (and even illegal) choices in order to take justice into their own hands -- particularly when their loved ones' lives are at stake. Keller tells his son that the only thing standing between a man and a sudden threat is his ability to protect himself and those he loves.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: All of the parents in the movie are flawed and confused. They're desperate for their girls and in some cases feel compelled to do unthinkable things to get closer to information on their whereabouts.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Many scenes of bloody torture and imprisonment, including close-ups of a chained and brutally beat-up man's face, a young man who shoots himself in the head, a man forced to drink a sedative, a girl who's about to be poisoned to death, the screams and cries of victims, and police killing a criminal. A father yells angrily and curses at his son. People are shot, bludgeoned, tortured with scalding or freezing water, and imprisoned. Young girls are missing.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Two married couples are affectionate, but they usually embrace out of grief rather than passion. A very brief glimpse of a teen girl in a tub (just her head and shoulders).

  • language false4

    Language: Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "damn it," "hell," "goddamn," "oh my God," etc.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: A few vehicle brands -- Ford Crown Victoria, Trans-Am.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults drink, sometimes to excess. A priest is so drunk on whiskey that he's basically passed out on the floor, and a man who says he hasn't had a drink in nine years then starts to drink regularly. An upset mother takes sleeping pills and other prescription opiates. A kidnapper forces prisoners to consume a drug-laced drink.

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