One of the best movies of the last decade just landed on Netflix, and while it may be almost 10 years old, it’s already outpacing several of the streamer’s latest original efforts in the most-watched charts.
Prisoners originally released in 2013 and stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Paul Dano, and it’s the very definition of a must-watch thriller film. After only a few days on the streaming platform, Prisoners has climbed to No. 2 in the Netflix most-watched list only behind Bullet Train, a 2022 action movie that features Brad Pitt (and is also very much worth your time).
What is Prisoners about?
Prisoners centers on every parent's worst nightmare: A missing child. Keller Dove (Hugh Jackman) scrambles to find clues after his 6-year-old daughter Anna, and her friend, go missing. The only lead is an old motorhome that was seen moments before the two girls vanished.
Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) leads the investigation, but when he’s forced to release the owner of the motorhome due to a lack of evidence, Dover believes he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands and enacts a plan to kidnap the motorhome owner and torture him into revealing the whereabouts of his daughter.
This dramatic thriller comes from director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Dune) and asks the question of how far a parent should go to save their child, and if some unspeakable moral lines can be crossed if it means protecting a loved one. Prisoners is an instantly gripping movie with a seriously memorable conclusion.
What do critics say about Prisoners?
Upon its initial release Prisoners released a strong response from critics. The movie currently scores a solid 81% on Rotten Tomatoes which earned it a coveted certified fresh seal of approval. Its audience score is even higher, currently standing at 87% from more than 100,000 ratings.
Donald Clarke of the Irish Times called it “one of the most satisfying thrillers we have seen in quite some time.” Praise that still holds up to this day. While Christopher Orr of The Atlantic said, “the work done here by Jackman, Gyllenhaal, and especially Villeneuve is simply too powerful to ignore.”
And while there were some critical reviews upon release, the film’s sizeable 150+ minute runtime came under intense scrutiny, it's reputation has only improved in recent years. It holds an impressive 8.1 rating on IMDb and over on film social network site Letterboxd it has over 267,000 likes and an average star rating of 4.2.
Prisoners — stream or skip?
The short answer is, yes you absolutely should stream Prisoners. The film is a certified crime thriller masterpiece boasting impressive performances across the board — Jackman in particular has never been better — as well as impeccable direction from one of the finest filmmakers currently working in Hollywood.
Some parents may find the film a little hard to stomach, as it goes to some pretty dark places and asks tough moral questions. But if you can hold your nerve you’ll be rewarded with a twisting thriller that packs a real punch. Just be warned that in this sort of story there are no guarantees of a neat and tidy ending. In the morally gray world of Prisoners, there isn’t really scope for a truly happy ending.