(2013)

Critic Reviews

74

Metascore

Based on 46 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
A spellbinding, sensationally effective thriller with a complex moral center.
100
Prisoners can at times be a hard film to watch, but thanks to all the talent involved, it's even harder to shake off.
100
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.
100
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.
91
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.
88
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."
88
Even with the stretched-out running time, Prisoners is one of the most intense moviegoing experiences of the year. You'll never forget it.
88
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.
84
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.
83
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.
80
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.
80
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
There's a near-sacred history in Hollywood of non-U.S.- born directors providing fresh perspectives on America. Milo? 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.
80
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.
75
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.
75
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.
75
A devastating psychological thriller, Prisoners pulls us deep into our worst fear: the Amber Alert. Then it holds us under.
70
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.
70
What makes Prisoners more potent than its oft-implausible mystery should allow is the way Villeneuve lingers over the textures of a terrible event.
63
Possibly year's most immaculate-looking drivel, a prismatically shot whodunit abundant in red herrings, but lacking in moral contemplation.
60
This is the rough cut of a good movie, and a splendid opportunity wasted.
60
The uniformly showy performances (Acting with a capital 'A') are what do in Prisoners more than anything.
60
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.
40
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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