The highly rated film Prisoners by director Denis Villeneuve is a brilliantly crafted suspense thriller that brings out the moral perplexities, religious symbolism, and complex characters in a terrifying Kafkaesque world. It is an intensely engrossing film and if you are in search of movies like Prisoners, we have made the following list of recommendations just for you.
Denis Villeneuve directed this suspense thriller crime story in a very carefully paced manner. Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, a carpenter who lives in Pennsylvania. His daughter and her friend are abducted when they go out to play in their neighbourhood. The police investigation is led by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal). Never having failed before, Loki is certain that he will find the answers but soon later he realises that the case might be a lot harder than he anticipated.
Prisoners is an intense film. The main characters are forced to make unimaginable choices to find the missing kids. The movie’s themes of revenge, as well as physical and mental imprisonment, create a shocking aura through its unflinching violence.
List of Movies Like Prisoners
- Mystic River
- Gone Baby Gone
- Nocturnal Animals
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoos
- Along Came a Spider
- Man on Fire
- The Silence of the Lambs
Also Read: Movies like Donnie Darko
1. Zodiac (2007)
Based on a true story, Zodiac is Thriller/Mystery film directed by the genius David Fincher. Set in the late 60s and 70s, the movie explores four men who obsessively investigate the crimes of a serial killer called the Zodiac. In the story, an attack of two takes place in California, shortly after the incident The San Francisco Bay Area Newspaper ‘ The San Francisco Chronicle ‘ receives an encrypted message where the criminal refers to himself as the Zodiac and threatens to kill a dozen people unless his coded message is published.
Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist at The San Francisco Chronicle deciphers some information, the crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downery Jr) works with Graysmith on the information. The Zodiac sends a taunting creepy mail to the Chronicle of a cab driver’s remains. A set of police inspectors are assigned to the case while the psychotic and intelligent Zodiac claims one victim after another. The movie Zodiac is a great depiction of one of the most infamous unsolved murder cases in history. Fincher’s directorial style is brilliant. If you are looking for movies like Prisoners starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the man searching for answers, you should definitely watch Zodiac.
2. Mystic River (2003)
The movie Mystic River was adapted from the 2001 novel by Dennis Lehane of the same title. Directed by the Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, Mystic River is an American neo-noir film that follows the story of an ex-convict Jimmy Marcus (played by Sean Penn) when his daughter (played by Emmy Rossum) is murdered. Jimmy’s two childhood friends Dave (Tim Robbins) and Sean (Kevin Bacon) become connected to the murder when Dave returns home the same night covered in blood and Sean who is a homicide detective is assigned to work on the investigation.
Jimmy suspects Dave as the culprit but is not convinced by the actions taken by the authorities for the investigation, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. The ominous tone of Mystic River is consistent throughout and put together in a dark stylish manner. If you want to watch movies like Prisoners, Mystic River is a great pick.
3. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Gone Baby Gone is the directorial debut film of Ben Affleck. The movie was released in 2007 and is based on the 1998 novel of the same name, also written by Dennis Lehane. This movie was well-received by the critics and Amy Ryan was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Helene McCready. A young private detective Patrick Kenzie is hired to search for the 4-year-old missing daughter of Helene McCready. Patrik soon discovers that Helen and her boyfriend Ray are drug addicts and mules for a drug lord named Cheese.
Discovering some shocking news, Patrik and his partner and girlfriend Angie join the police detectives Remy Bressant and Nick Poole to find Amanda, suspecting Cheese to be the man behind the crime. The movie has been highly appreciated for its thought-provoking, slow but gripping story. Gone Baby Gone does not provide all the answers but is a sophisticated film regardless. If you want to watch movies similar to Prisoners, you will enjoy watching Gone Baby Gone’s focus on the raw and uncensored representation of drugs and the underworld.
4. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Nocturnal Animals is a thriller/drama movie directed by Tom Ford and released in 2016.
Adapted from the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, the movie follows Susan Morrow, a wealthy art gallery owner who is married to a lately neglectful handsome and rich man Hutton Morrow. Susan lives a fairly unexciting life, when her husband is away, she receives a manuscript from her former husband Tony Hastings (Jake ) her entire world turns upside down.
Susan is extremely thrilled by the manuscript, the story in the manuscript is about a man, his wife and his daughter on a trip which turns into a cynical nightmare. Tom Ford’s intentional idea of casting Jake in the double role works brilliantly. Susan is forced to look back on her past and confront the dark truths about her life. Tom Ford’s dual narrative of the main story and the manuscript creates a shocking effect. Amy and Jake’s enigmatic performances are worth all the praise. If you want to watch movies like Prisoners, Nocturnal Animals is one of the best movies you can watch.
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoos (2011)
Directed by David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is another adaptation on this list, based on the novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Mikael Blomkvist, played by Daniell Craig, is a reporter hired by a wealthy Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the murder of Vanger’s niece Harriet. Mikeal encounters an unusual tech-savvy investigator, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) who does not easily trust others.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a masterful suspense film by Fincher, it is absolutely stunning from beginning to end, including the opening credits which are a feast to watch. The movie is slow at times, but the acting by the talented Rooney and Daniel makes it worth watching. If you want to watch movies like Prisoners that bring out the elements of extreme violence against women, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the right choice for you.
6. Along Came a Spider
Along Came a Spider is a psychological suspense thriller movie adapted from James Patterson’s first novel of the highly acclaimed Alex Cross series. Along Came a Spider movie is however the second movie made from the series, Kiss the Girls (1997) came before.
Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Alex Cross, a police detective and psychologist in Washington D.C. Alex is almost through with the day-to-day investigations of murder cases just when he is appointed a case where a teacher kidnaps two students.
The Kidnapper, Gary Soneji (Micheal Wincott) buries the two students alive his actions lead to a similar turmoil to the ones seen in Prisoners. If you are looking for movies similar to Prisoners then you may want to watch Along Came a Spider and the other movies from the same world, Kiss the Girls (1997) and Alex Cross (2012).
Also Read: Movies like Prometheus
7. Man on Fire (2004)
Man on Fire is one of the most underappreciated movies on the list. Directed by Tony Scott, this action thriller movie’s main character John Creasy is played by Denzel Washington. John Creasy is an ex-CIA operative who is appointed to bodyguard 9-year-old Lupita (Dakota Fanning), daughter of a wealthy businessman Samuel Ramos.
In the premise, we learn that Mexico City sees a high wave of kidnappings of children of wealthy families. Creasy gets attached to Lupita but when a crazy gunman manages to kidnap Lupita, Creasy does everything in his power to save her. The tone of Man on Fire is emotionally intense and the performances by Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken are worthy of high praise. If you want to watch movies that bring out a similar strength of resilience you saw in similar movies like Prisoners then you must watch Man on Fire.
8. Changeling (2008)
Changeling is a 2008 mystery/drama movie by Clint Eastwood. Set in 1982 Los Angeles, we see Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, a single mother to a young boy Walter. One day, when Christine comes home after work, she discovers that Walter has disappeared. After five months of endless prayers, she finally hears from the LAPD that her boy has been found.
The boy however she receives is not her son Walter. The authorities call her delusional and refuse to cooperate. She is able to find a clergyman who helps her and realises the opportunity to expose the corruption in LAPD and the government. Christine’s situation is extremely heartbreaking and her strength and resilience to hope that she will one day find her boy is truly inspiring. If you want to watch films similar to Prisoners with a parent’s unconditional endeavour to find their child, you need to watch Changeling.
9. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Based on Thomas Harriss’ novel, the 1991 movie The Silence of the Lambs is regarded as an absolute cult classic. Directed by Jonathan Demme, this Hannibal Lecter series story follows Clarice Sterling, who is training to become an FBI. When a serial killer known as ‘Buffalo Bill’ kills a young woman and removes her skin, Jack Crawford, agent in charge of the behavioural science unit arranges for her to meet imprisoned Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist turned cannibal serial killer.
The experience of Clarice’s meeting with Hannibal is psychologically terrifying to watch. Exceptional performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster rightfully earned them an Academy Award for Best acting in their roles. The Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest movies you can watch if you’re in search of thriller movies like Prisoners.
10. Taken (2008)
Also titled 96 Hours and The Hostage, Taken is an action-thriller French English-language film directed by Pierre Morel. Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills is at the centre of the story, Bryan Mills is a former government operative of the Green Beret (a special operative force). Bryan attempts to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) who lives with his ex-wife Lenore and her wealthy stepfather, Stuart.
Bryan being a high intelligence operative is often concerned for Kim’s safety, but his worst nightmare comes true when Kim and her friend are abducted by a sex trafficking mob. Bryan realises from his experience that in the given situation, she must be found within 96 hours or he might lose her forever. If you want to watch movies similar to Prisoners, Bryan’s actions and internal pain to rescue his daughter will highlight the perfect elements you’re looking for. You can also check out the sequel Taken 2 if you like.
Also Read: Movies like Coherence
Here are a few movies like Prisoners that didn’t make the recommendation list but you can check them out if you want:
- The Silence
- The Game
- Wind River
- Gone Girl