15 Best Movies like Prisoners



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Have you ever wondered how far you would be willing to go if you were forced to take matters into your own hands in order to avenge a loved one?

This is the dilemma of the film Prisoners, where a father goes on a quest to find his kidnapped daughter, forced to take matters into his own hands, despite the fact that a detective named Loki is also searching for her, as well as her best friend, who was also kidnapped.

The dilemma of movies like this, that explore father-daughter and father-son relationships, is whether the main character has it in them to do what they must to save their family.

I recently got quite involved with these sorts of films, which led me to create a list of as many as 15 similar movies.

Keep in mind, these are not the only ones out there that have a similar theme, but they are definitely among the best.

If you’re after something like Prisoners, check these out.

The Silence of The Lambs (1991)

The first on our list of the movies like Prisoners is The Silence of The Lambs. An instant classic and one of the best Anthony Hopkins films, it won Best Picture, but also has fans all over the world.

The film focuses on Clarice Starling, a student at the FBI Academy and an aspiring FBI profiler. After the daughter of a senator gets abducted, Starling is sent to interview an imprisoned serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Granted, the film is more about a genius cannibalistic serial killer than anything else, but it does share similarities with Prisoners, such as an abduction and an inexperienced investigator determined to solve the case.

All in all, it is a great film and one of the most thrilling movies on the list, so it definitely deserves to be here.

The Guardian said that “The back-and-forth between Lecter and Clarice in their first meeting is the most famous scene in The Silence of the Lambs, with its impeccable stagecraft and memorable lines, and the electric chemistry between the actors.”

The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Ted Levine, Brooke Smith, Scott Glenn, Ted Tally, and others.

Zodiac (2007)

Moving on with our list of movies like Prisoners, we have Paramount Pictures’ Zodiac, a film by director David Fincher, which follows a police investigation in the San Francisco bay area terrorized by a serial killer known only as the Zodiac killer.

The case draws in several characters, including police detectives David Toschi and William Armstrong, writer Paul Avery, and cartoonist Robert Graysmith.

The film is based on a true story about a serial killer of the same name from 1960s, who was never caught.

Like Prisoners, with its desperate father crossing all the lines to find his missing child, in Zodiac, two homicide detectives and the two civilians become obsessed with finding the killer.

It is a very intelligent tale about a murder investigation where the police pursue multiple leads, while the letters and ciphers that the killer sends result in an intense media circus.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chloe Sevigny, Anthony Edwards, John Carroll Lynch, and others.

Gone Girl (2014)

Next on the list of movies like Prisoners, we have Gone Girl. This is a film based on a bestselling novel.

The film follows Nick Dunne whose wife Amy goes missing. Nick becomes a prime suspect, and the fact that he was having an affair does not help him look innocent.

The actors’ outstanding performances are definitely one of the reasons why the film deserves to be considered one of the best movies about a husband-wife relationship and how devastating the wife’s disappearance can be.

Gone Girl also has quite a few twists and a surprise ending that you will definitely like.

Variety called it “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.”

The film stars Rosamund Pike, Emily Ratajkowski, Ben Affleck, Lisa Banes, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, and others.

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

While our previous entry has seen Affleck as an actor, this one represents Ben Affleck’s directorial debut. Gone Baby Gone actually follows Casey Affleck, who plays a private detective in this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.

Like the previous one, Gone Baby Gone also has a surprise ending with a very satisfying twist.

Gone Baby Gone story kicks off when a 4-year-old Amanda McCready disappears from her home.

After the police investigation fails to make progress with the case, the little girl’s aunt hires two private detectives who admit that they do not have much experience with this kind of case, but the family wants them anyway.

They take the case, which leads them to face a drug cartel, gangs, and even pedophiles, as they continue to follow the trail of a missing girl.

The film stars Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, Michelle Monaghan, Jill Quigg, and others.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara

Moving on with the list of the movies like Prisoners, we have a psychological thriller called The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The film takes place in Sweden, where investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist decides to help a millionaire investigate the murder of his niece.

The girl disappeared 40 years earlier, but the millionaire, Henrick, suspects that someone in the family killed her.

Blomkvist teams up with a hacker, Lisbeth Salander, and together, they follow a trail of unsolved murders, uncovering family secrets, ties to the Nazis, and more.

This Columbia Pictures movie is one of the best movies on the list for those who love mystery, secrets, and a good plot twist.

The film stars Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer, Goran Višnjić, and others.

Nightcrawler (2014)

The sixth on our list is Nightcrawler, another one of very suspenseful movies where the main character, Lou Bloom, goes through quite an intense character development.

You see, Lou finds himself desperate for work, and willing to take on anything. This is how he ends up entering the world of L.A. crime journalism.

The character development part comes when he blurs the line between being an observer and participant in said crimes.

He also has a TV-news veteran, Nina, helping him.

The film was rather well received, and it even won a Best Original Screenplay nomination at the 87th Academy Awards.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton, Ann Cusack, James Huang, and others.

Mystic River (2003)

Halfway down the list, we have Mystic River, a film directed by Clint Eastwood that follows a murder, instead of kidnapping. However, apart from that, it still focuses on a desperate father and his quest for justice.

After his daughter’s murder, the father joins the investigation with the help of the neighborhood thugs, essentially becoming a mercenary.

The police officer investigating the murder, as well as one of the suspects, are both childhood friends of the father.

Furthermore, all three of them share a traumatic event that they lived through as children, involving the kidnapping of the suspect, Dave, which involved child abuse.

Mystic River explores the long-term effects of childhood trauma, and what it can do to people over the years, just like Prisoners. The film also got nominated for six Academy Awards, winning Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

The film stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laury Linney, Laurence Fishburne, Maricia Gay Harden, and others.

Secret In Their Eyes (2015)

Another one of the greatest thriller movies that I found for this list is Secret In Their Eyes.

It is a very intense film about a tight-knit team of FBI investigators who get torn apart when one of them discovers that their own teenage daughter was brutally murdered.

The FBI agent has to put aside their feelings and work together with the rest in order to solve the case.

The film was not exactly a box office success, despite the fact that the cast provided a rather strong performance, which makes it both suspenseful and enjoyable to watch.

Overall, I thought that it was a good movie, and I definitely recommend watching it if you haven’t already.

The film stars Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfred Molina, Dean Norris, Michael Kelly, and others.

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Never really here cast members

Continuing with our theme of films like Prisoners, we have You Were Never Really Here, which is as dark as it sounds. The film progresses slowly, but it is rather methodical as it builds up, which is definitely good enough to draw people in.

It features Joe, a veteran who has a rather traumatic past. He attempts to track down missing children, and give the families of the kids the kind of justice that only a vigilante can offer.

However, while on the job, he gets drawn into a conspiracy that ruins his life.

Furthermore, while the movie is violent, it also has contemplative and even dreamy parts, which means that the audience never really knows what is real and what is not.

This time, the critics loved the movie, while the audience still gave it a decent score, although many were likely confused by some of its aspects.

The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, Judith Anna Roberts, John Doman, and others.

Along Came a Spider (2001)

Up next, we have Along Came a Spider, a film starring M. Freeman, who plays a police officer and a criminal profiler Alex Cross.

The film kicks off with a sting operation that goes terribly wrong, and Cross’ partner dies. The trauma of the event makes him want to leave the law enforcement, but the kidnapping of a senator’s daughter puts those plans on hold.

The film was liked by the audiences, even if most critics did not share that enthusiasm. Still, with tensions on the rise and the clock ticking, Cross has to use all of his skills to save the young girl, and that will keep you at the edge of the seat throughout the film.

The film stars Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Mika Boorem, Billy Burke, Dylan Baker, and others.

Sicario (2015)

In the eleventh spot, we have Sicario, a film featuring Kate Macer, who is a young and idealistic FBI agent who joins the government task force to help take down a Mexican drug lord.

The film is all about the Mexican drug cartels, betrayal, and revenge.

However, it focuses on Kate who is tasked with leading a team that’s cracking down on cartel safe houses.

When she finds out that her own people are using extreme measures to extract information, including torture, she starts having doubts, which only escalates further when one of her own team members is killed during a raid.

There is also a matter of a mysterious stranger with a dark past who gets involved with the fights against the cartels, which complicates matters even further.

The film stars Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Jeffrey Donovan, Jon Bernthal, Victor Garber, Kim Larrichio, and others.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Usual Suspects is a very interesting film that has a deep and complex story, which is told by the only survivor of a gun fight that took place on a boat.

The story, according to the survivor, Verbal Kint, started when five criminals met on a seemingly random police lineup.

He then tries to convince the feds of the existence of a mythic crime lord, known as Keyser Soze.

Soze was the one who was responsible for organizing a multi-million dollar heist that resulted in the gun battle and also the explosion in San Pedro harbor.

Kint was lucky to survive, but the story he tells of the crime lord and his almost supernatural powers leaves the feds sceptical, even though it seems like the sole survivor believes his own story.

The film stars Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Chazz Palminteri, and others.

True Detective (2014 – 2019)

True Detective cast members at premiere

To switch things up a bit, we have True Detective, our first and only TV show on the list.

I believe that the show deserves to be an exception to the rule, with the rule being that this is a list of movies like Prisoners because it definitely fits the “like Prisoners” part of the description, it is brilliantly done and a shame for you to miss it.

The show is all about long, deep dialogues, convincing performance, great character growth, and more, to the point where it charmed the audience more than anything else that you can find and watch on screen.

Apart from a phenomenal cast, the show kicks off with a story of two Louisiana State Police detectives and their pursuit of a serial killer with connections to the occult, which takes place over a 17-year period. And that’s just the first season.

The show stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan, Alexandra Daddario, Mahershala Ali, Troy Kittles, and others.

Se7en (1995)

Nearing the end of the list, we have a film that has been described as the most well-written and inventive films to ever come out. I am, of course, talking about Se7en.

A story of two homicide detectives who are after a killer who based his crimes on the seven deadly sins.

This is a dark and haunting film, and it doesn’t pull any punches. In fact, it will take you, the viewer, from one victim’s tortured remains to the next.

The reason why it is so appreciated is the fact that it never strays into irrelevant aspects, and it never pulls typical Hollywood cliches.

Instead, it remains original and truthful to its idea. And also, it paired Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as partner cops, so what’s not to like?

The film stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Andrew Kevin Walker, R. Lee Ermey, and others.

A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014)


Finally, the last on our list is the film called A Walk Among The Tombstones.

The film revolves around a private investigator Matthew Scudder, who gets hired by a drug kingpin to discover the identity of a man who kidnapped and killed his wife.

Scudder accepts, and navigates the treacherous streets of New York City as he tries to solve the crime.

Along the way, he meets a number of dangerous characters and uncovers just how deeply corruption can run in NYC.

Along the way, the former police officer, now an amateur detective obsessed with solving the case, starts blurring the lines between criminal and lawful, himself.

The film stars Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Danielle Rose Russel, David Harbour, Sebastian Roche, Adam David Thompson, and others.

What is your favorite on the list? I would love to know, so drop me a comment below.

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