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15 Movies Like Prisoners That Are Definitely Worth Your Time

In director Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners," a detective named Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) searches for two girls who went missing on Thanksgiving and are presumed kidnapped. Meanwhile, one father, intense survivalist Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), takes matters into his own hands. The film has an excellent supporting cast, including Paul Dano, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Dylan Minnette, and David Dastmalchian.

Villeneuve's dark thriller poses one central question — what line are you willing to cross to find your child? — but there are various themes present in "Prisoners." It's about a suspected kidnapping and the subsequent police investigation, though it's also an old-fashioned revenge flick that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.

We're not the only ones who loved it — Entertainment Weekly called the film "exciting, cathartic, and powerfully disturbing," while The New York Times said that it "absorbs and controls your attention with such assurance that you hold your breath for fear of distracting the people on screen." It scored a solid 81% on Rotten Tomatoes and marked the beginning of a hot streak for Villeneuve.

If you're looking for something similar to watch but don't know where to start, we're here to help. Here are 15 movies like "Prisoners" that are definitely worth your time.

This article contains references to child abuse and abduction. If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Along Came a Spider (2001)

2001's "Along Came a Spider" is the sequel to 1997's "Kiss the Girls," which stars Morgan Freeman as the police officer and criminal profiler Alex Cross. Freeman reprises the role here, and he brings his A-game. When a sting operation goes wrong and his partner is killed, Cross considers leaving law enforcement for good. He's forced to put his retirement on hold when a man kidnaps a senator's daughter from an exclusive private school. Cross joins Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter) in a race to solve the crime and find the girl.

As the Metacritic scores reveal, audiences enjoyed the film more than most critics, but Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly loved it. "'Along Came a Spider' moves at a taut, well-metered pace, one that allows for scenes of psychological excavation [...] as well as scenes of cranked-up action," she said in her review. The film certainly has a few unexpected twists. The kidnap victim, Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), is an intelligent and resourceful little girl who embodies an "I'm my own hero" attitude you can't help but admire. Freeman slips right back into the role of Alex Cross (created by author James Patterson) effortlessly. The connections between "Prisoners" and this film are obvious, and you're bound to enjoy it.

Changeling (2008)

Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" stars Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, a mother struggling to cope after the kidnapping of her son. When the LAPD tries to give her another child, claiming it's her son, things get tense and more than a little strange. The kidnapping and subsequent police investigation link Eastwood's film with "Prisoners" thematically, though it takes place in a different time: "Changeling" is a period crime drama set in the late 1920s. The twisting storylines about the kidnappings in both films are complex but ultimately satisfying in a dark way, delving into the devastating effects of trauma.

It's not Eastwood's most-celebrated movie, but "Changeling" was met with generally positive reviews when it dropped in 2008. It earned three Oscar nominations, including one for Jolie's performance. "Emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed, this true story-inspired drama begins small with the disappearance of a young boy, only to gradually fan out to become a comprehensive critique of the entire power structure of Los Angeles," Variety said in its review. If you haven't seen this film yet, it's time to add it to your watch list.

The Girl on the Train (2016)

The 2016 film "The Girl on the Train" is an adaptation of Paula Hawkins' novel of the same name. The book is set in the United Kingdom while the film takes place in the United States, but the big screen version remains largely true to the source material. Rachel (Emily Blunt) is divorced and has lost her job because of her drinking. She still takes the train to New York every day, allowing her a brief glimpse into two houses visible from the tracks.

One house is where her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) live with their baby. The other belongs to a woman named Megan (Haley Bennett) and her husband Scott (Luke Evans). When Megan goes missing, Rachel is questioned by police, having been seen in the neighborhood the day of the disappearance. Unfortunately, Rachel doesn't remember what happened, because she was blackout drunk.

"The Girl on the Train" employs Rachel's impaired memories to create suspense, and it delivers a surprise ending. Like "Prisoners," this film uses past trauma as the backbone of the main character's motivations. Critical reaction was mixed, though Blunt's performance received plenty of praise. "Retaining the British accent that makes her even more of an outsider in this scary new world, Blunt convinces completely as a drunken fish out of water," said Mark Kermode, chief film critic at The Observer.

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Ben Affleck's directorial debut "Gone Baby Gone" stars Casey Affleck as a private detective looking into the disappearance of a little girl. Although "Gone Baby Gone" follows a private detective instead of a father, the thematic link between Affleck's film and "Prisoners" is clear to see. Both raise moral dilemmas, but in entirely different ways, making them as thought-provoking as they are gripping.

"Gone Baby Gone" has a brilliant ensemble cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Titus Welliver, and Amy Ryan, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance as the single mother whose child goes missing. The film also benefits from the excellent source material — the original novel was written by Dennis Lehane, who also penned "Mystic River."

The film has a satisfying twist-ending that is genuinely surprising, which, sadly, is a lot rarer than it should be in Hollywood. Veteran film critic Roger Ebert called Affleck's gripping movie "a superior police procedural, and something more — a study in devious human nature."

Man on Fire (2004)

Tony Scott's "Man on Fire" follows former CIA operative John Creasy (Denzel Washington), who begrudgingly accepts a position as a bodyguard in Mexico City after a rash of kidnappings. His time is split between protecting the daughter of his wealthy employer (Dakota Fanning) and drinking alone, feeling somewhat disgruntled because he has become a babysitter with a gun. When Lupita gets kidnapped and the local police don't seem to be doing their jobs, Creasy takes matters into his own hands. He swears vengeance on the people who stole the little girl he hadn't expected to love like a daughter.

While "Man on Fire" is an action movie with heart and "Prisoners" is a procedural thriller that asks moral questions, the parallels are clear. The film received mixed reviews at the time of its release but quickly became a cult favorite, a rare example of a revenge flick that stays with you after the credits roll. Variety called it "one of the more absorbing and palatable entries in the rather disreputable 'Death Wish'-style self-appointed vigilante sub-genre." The audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic show that the unexpected bond between Creasy and Lupita struck a chord with your regular movie-goer.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Based on Stieg Larsson's bestselling novel, David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" takes us to Sweden, where investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is helping elderly millionaire Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) investigate the murder of his niece. It's been 40 years since young Harriet vanished from the family island. Henrick suspects someone in the family is responsible for her death, and his nephew Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård) welcomes Blomkvist's involvement.

Blomkvist secures the help of the brilliant but guarded hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), who has a troubled past. Together they follow a trail of disturbing unsolved murders, uncovering some Vanger family secrets along the way: Historic ties to the Nazis are just the tip of the iceberg. If the cold case side of "Prisoners" intrigued you, this film is right up your street. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" went down well with the critics, who praised it as a rare example of a quality Hollywood remake. "We know what will happen and it's still riveting," said the Financial Times.

Gone Girl (2014)

David Fincher's "Gone Girl" is based on the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay. The film stars Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne and Rosamund Pike as Nick's wife Amy Dunne. Unlike "Prisoners," Fincher's adaptation of Flynn's hit novel is about a missing adult rather than the abduction of a child, but it's no less emotional. After Amy's disappearance, suspicion hangs over her husband, who was having an affair. If you love being surprised, this is the film for you.

"Gone Girl" channels the real-life case of Laci and Scott Peterson, which gripped the country in the mid-00s. It's an intricate labyrinth, leading viewers down a dark and twisting path that ends in a totally unexpected place. Critics and audiences were equally spellbound. "Surgically precise, grimly funny, and entirely mesmerizing over the course of its swift 149-minute running time, this taut yet expansive psychological thriller represents an exceptional pairing of filmmaker and material," Variety reviewer Justin Chang wrote. If you love the book, the film version will not disappoint you.

Mystic River (2003)

Clint Eastwood's critically acclaimed film "Mystic River" follows a murder rather than a kidnapping, but it's similar to "Prisoners" in that it's about a dad's quest for justice. The father of the victim (Sean Penn) inserts himself into the investigation by looking into his daughter's murder with the help of neighborhood thugs he is related to by marriage. Both "Prisoners" and Eastwood's film are about parents who deal with their grief by becoming the mercenary they believe their child deserves.

The detective on the murder investigation, Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), and one suspect, Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), are childhood friends of Penn's Jimmy Markum. The three men shared a traumatic event as children: Sean and Jimmy helplessly watched as Dave was driven away by two men who proceeded to assault him. Both "Mystic River" and "Prisoners" explore the lasting effects of childhood trauma, suggesting that it can turn us into monsters if we don't deal with it.

Penn and Robbins both won Oscars for their emotionally powerful performances. Writing in The New Yorker, David Denby said that the film "is as close as we are likely to come on the screen to the spirit of Greek tragedy." He added: "The crime of child abuse becomes a curse that determines the pattern of events in the next generation."

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

"Nocturnal Animals" stars Amy Adams as Susan Morrow, a wealthy art gallery owner with insomnia. When her estranged first husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her a manuscript, Susan is sucked into the violent story. It's the tale of a husband and wife (played in the film by Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher) who get run off the road by a group of young men. Their attackers proceed to kidnap both the wife and the couple's teenage daughter.

"Nocturnal Animals" is told through three storylines: The book, the present, and Susan and Edward's shared past. As Susan reads the story, she contemplates how she left Edward some twenty years earlier, drawing parallels between real life and the fictional yarn he's spun. Edward's story is about a man who becomes involved in the police investigation after his family is taken, discovering that he is willing to stray outside the law to find justice. Both "Prisoners" and "Nocturnal Animals" explore how our past is something we can't divorce ourselves from.

Michael Shannon was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting performance in "Nocturnal Animals," a nuanced, haunting, and visually arresting film. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called director Tom Ford "an intoxicating sensualist and an accomplished storyteller, with as fine an eye for character detail as he has for color and composition."

Searching (2018)

"Searching" is a unique film starring John Cho as David Kim, whose life is turned upside down when his teenage daughter (Michelle La) goes missing. When David realizes that Margot has left her laptop at home, he becomes worried. She's not responding to his messages, and he quickly realizes something is wrong. When detective Vik (Debra Messing) gets involved in the case, she asks for David's help.

After gaining access to Margot's laptop and contacting her "friends," David discovers she doesn't have any real friends. As David pours himself into the investigation, one thing becomes clear: He didn't know his daughter at all. This film has an obvious thematic link to "Prisoners," but the investigation takes place entirely online — "Searching" is an innovative movie told through screens, with text messages and social media sites utilized throughout. The film reveals how our lives aren't in the real world and demonstrates how useful technology can be during investigations. It also shows how isolated people feel despite constant online contact.

"Cutting to the emotional core of what social media says about us, the result is as much a time capsule of our relationship to (and reliance upon) modern technology as it is a cutting-edge digital thriller," said Peter Debruge of Variety. Despite all the tech employed in the film, the story has an emotional core, keeping audiences engaged with the characters.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Best picture winner "The Silence of the Lambs" follows Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling, a student at the FBI Academy. When the daughter of a senator gets abducted by Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb (Ted Levine), Starling gets sent to interview imprisoned serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), who her bosses hope will be able to help with the investigation. While this film is about an adult abduction and a cannibalistic killer, there are common threads with "Prisoners."

Both films feature an inexperienced investigator determined to crack the case they're working on: Starling is driven to save Catherine and catch Buffalo Bill, and she wants to prove herself capable at whatever cost. Foster and Hopkins both scooped Oscars for their performances, which remain among the best of their careers (Hopkins' Lecter was named the greatest movie villain of all time by the American Film Institute). With a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this near-perfect film is a must-see for fans of "Prisoners" and psychological thrillers in general.

Taken (2008)

The Liam Neeson action flick "Taken" is about a dad trying to save his kid from sex traffickers. When Bryan Mills' daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) gets abducted while on vacation in Europe, he uses the skills he honed as a covert CIA agent to find her, leaving no stone unturned and no trafficker unscathed. Much like Keller Dover in "Prisoners," Mills will do whatever he deems necessary to save his daughter from her abductors, as the men responsible soon find out.

Both films are about vengeance, but "Prisoners" is far more introspective, asking the audience to contemplate the morality of Keller's actions rather than revel in them. Bryan Mills won't let things like right and wrong slow him down, and the audience gets swept up in the frenzy of bullets. As The Austin Chronicle put it, the film "moves so fast and with such single-minded, vindictive energy, there's no time for moral ambivalence." Critics had mixed feelings about the movie, but audiences loved it, as reflected in the box office numbers: "Taken" made over $225 million from a budget of just $25 million. It may just be the ultimate dad movie.

The Lovely Bones (2009)

Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" is a difficult but ultimately rewarding watch. After her murder, teenager Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) watches over her family and her killer from the afterlife. Susie sees her father (Mark Wahlberg) becoming consumed by his hunt for the murderer while her mother (Rachel Weisz) struggles with her grief. She observes her killer (Stanley Tucci) going about his life as a detective (Michael Imperioli) does what he can to uncover the truth. She sees it all, but she can do nothing to help, making it all the more tragic.

The thematic links between "Prisoners" and Jackson's film are clear, but the tone of the two movies is very different. "The Lovely Bones" is a supernatural drama about grief and healing set in the 1970s, while "Prisoners" is a contemporary thriller, more concerned with detective work than how a soul finds peace. The film didn't go down very well with the critics upon release, but those who did enjoy it loved it. "I found Jackson's film soulful, respectful, masterful, horrifying, rending, and emotionally true," said Shawn Levy of The Oregonian.

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Writer-director Lynne Ramsay's "You Were Never Really Here" is a dark film that gradually sucks you in: It's slow and methodical as it builds towards a startling conclusion. Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a veteran with a traumatic past, tracks down missing children for their families, exacting the kind of justice only a vigilante can hand out. When he gets sent to a brothel to look for a missing girl, he finds himself drawn into a conspiracy that tears his life apart.

This film is filled with violence, but it is contemplative in its tone and almost dreamy in places. Joe slips into reveries and memories, keeping the audience off-balance, unsure what is really happening and what is imagined. Like "Prisoners," this is a film about abducted children and a man who will do anything to get them back.

"You Were Never Really Here" was a hit with the critics, scoring an impressive 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. "Ramsay has made something extraordinary, a film that's both cruel and compassionate, composed of quick, stabbing slivers of insight about how childhood terror can be twisted up with adult compulsion," said Jessica Kiang of The Playlist.

Zodiac (2007)

David Fincher's "Zodiac" is about the case of the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized San Francisco in the late 1960s. The film follows the people trying to crack the case: Police detectives David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), writer Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), and cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal). We see how the investigation took over their lives in the 1970s and into the 1980s.

Like "Prisoners," a civilian (Gyllenhaal's cartoonist) takes it upon himself to get involved in the hunt for the perpetrator. This leads the others to view him with suspicion, but, over time, he becomes a valued member of the team. It's a well-acted, thrilling movie that the critics were blown away by. Empire magazine called it a "gripping character study," while the BBC said it was Fincher's "most mature film yet," an argument that still holds up over a decade later. If you haven't seen it yet, make arrangements to do so as soon as possible. You won't regret it.