If you’re a fan of crime thrillers like 2013’s ‘Prisoners,’ you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our list of the 19 best movies like Prisoners!
Prisoners is a 2013 American crime thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Aaron Guzikowski. The storyline follows Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), a man who lost his daughter to a kidnapper on Thanksgiving.
When the police arrest and release a suspicious young man named Alex (Paul Dano), Keller teams up with another father with a missing daughter (Terrence Howard) to find out what Alex knows, all the while, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is on the case. The film follows the two men as they race to find the truth.
What results in a movie filled with twists and turns and the kind of suspense you can’t help but feel? It’s an intense, gripping film that critics lauded as one of the best of that year.
If you’re looking for a movie like Prisoners, prepare for a deep dive into the crime thriller genre. Here you’ll find stories of kidnapped children, missing persons, and the men and women trying to find them.
Fans of vigilante justice, this is the genre for you. Just be ready to tackle heavy material, such as human trafficking, sexual assault, and murder.
Here are your Top 19 best movies like Prisoners:
1. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
English 1h 54m IMDb
Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck
Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Casey Affleck star in this tense drama about two Boston private detectives (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) investigating the disappearance of a 4-year-old girl.
Together they try to find out what happened to her while dealing with some of the city’s worst, reprehensible criminals. Called a “surprisingly good ” movie by fans, a twisted moral dilemma threatens to bring the whole case crashing down.
2. Catch The Fair One (2021)
English 1h 25m IMDb
Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
Stars: Kali Reis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Chu
Top reviewers say this one is an exciting and well-made thriller about a former champion boxer who takes on her biggest challenge yet: the search for her kidnapped sister.
What follows is a gripping hide-and-seek chase through the gritty world of the human trafficking industry. It is a little slow to start, but it picks up steam and delivers a satisfying climax.
3. The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)
English 1h 36m IMDb
Director: Sara Colangelo
Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gael García Bernal, Ato Blankson-Wood
With a perfectly composed soundtrack and a great cast of actors, this movie is a “painfully telling” story about a Kindergarten teacher (Maggie Gyllenhaal) enraptured by the talent of one of her students (Parker Sevak).
When she discovers that the student is not appreciated at home, she decides to take matters into her own hands… by kidnapping the boy. Even if you’re not a fan of dramas, this one is worth watching.
4. You Were Never Really Here (2017)
English (United Kingdom) 1h 29m IMDb
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov
Joaquin Phoenix plays veteran suffering from PTSD who takes on dangerous missions to help find missing girls. His severe past hallucinations make for a compelling and disturbing story of a man losing his grip on reality with every case he takes.
It’s a strange and dark film that’s “a stray away” from the typical crime drama. While it’s not for everyone, those who enjoy a more intense and psychological story will enjoy this one.
5. Mystic River (2003)
English 2h 18m IMDb
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
A “chilling” and “effective” film about three best friends (played by Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon) who grew up in the same neighborhood in Boston. Dave was abducted as a child and now suffers PTSD.
Jimmy got in trouble with the law but got clean, only to have his daughter viciously murdered. The final friend, Sean, is the homicide detective tasked with solving the case.
While the case brings the friends closer together, it also threatens to tear them apart. A “sophisticated, intricate, and rewarding” film that will keep you guessing until the end.
6. Forgotten (2017)
Korean 1h 48m IMDb
Director: Hang-jun Jang
Stars: Kang Ha-neul, Yeon Je Hyung, Mu-Yeol Kim
The South Korean film industry has experienced a boom in recent years, and Forgotten is a shining example of the country’s quick grasp on the thriller genre.
Sometimes “contrived” but gripping, it stars Kang Ha-neul as Jin Seok, a young adult who witnesses his older brother’s kidnapping. When his brother returns with amnesia, it doesn’t sit right with Jin Seok, who is determined to find the truth.
7. Taken (2008)
English 1h 30m IMDb
Director: Pierre Morel
Stars: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
The movie that birthed a million memes. Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent whose daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped by a group of human traffickers.
While the movie has mixed reviews, it’s still the blockbuster that catapulted Neeson into the action-thriller genre. (Even he didn’t expect it to be as popular as it was.) A slow start that eventually builds into an exciting, action-packed finale.
8. The Beast (2020)
English 1h 37m IMDb
Director: Ludovico Di Martino
Stars: Fabrizio Gifuni, Lino Musella, Monica Piseddu
Called “La Belva” in its native Italy, we’re introduced to Leonida (Fabrizio Gifuni), a lone-wolf Army vet increasingly estranged from his family.
Leonida finds the darkest side of himself reemerging from within when his daughter is abducted. He seems “unstoppable,” and his rage is displayed in a grimey and “unapologetic” way.
This is the kind of film that some find hard to stomach. But if you’re a fan of vigilantes doing whatever it takes to save the ones they love, you’re in for a treat.
9. The Call (2013)
English 1h 36m IMDb
Director: Brad Anderson
Stars: Halle Berry, Evie Thompson, Abigail Breslin
911 operator Jordan (Halle Berry) faces down a demon from her past when a call comes in from an abducted teenager (Abigail Breslin). It takes all Jordan’s training and courage to withstand the stress of trying to save the girl’s life.
All the while, she must fight off her traumatic memories of the day she was kidnapped herself. The Call is a divisive film, with some praising its tense and suspenseful first half but also criticizing its lengthy, drawn-out conclusion.
Still, it is an average movie for the genre that might not impress hardcore fans but makes for a decent watch.
10. Lucid Dream (2017)
Korean 1h 41m IMDb
Director: Joon-Sung Kim
Stars: Sol Kyung-gu, Go Soo, Kang Hye-jeong
Another addition from South Korea, this time as a sci-fi thriller. Lucid Dream follows journalist Dae-ho (Go Soo) as he tries to find out what happened to his son, who was abducted three years previous.
Using lucid dreaming techniques, he attempts to retrace his memories and effectively travel back in time using his mind. Lucid Dream is a bit of a mixed bag.
Many are quick to point out the obvious parallels to the movie Inception and are not wrong. However, Dae-ho’s genuine desire to find his son and bring his abductor to justice makes this a very watchable movie.
11. Man On Fire (2004)
English 2h 26m IMDb
Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning
Ex-CIA agent John Creasy (Denzel Washington) is hired to protect Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning), the daughter of a wealthy Mexican-American family. John had been on the edge of losing himself to alcohol and feeling lost.
However, Pita’s company lifts his spirits, and he can start putting his life back together. Only to have it shattered when the little girl is kidnapped.
The story toes the line between expertly subtle and confusingly vague, making it somewhat of a hit with viewers but a miss with critics. This one is for you if you enjoy a plot that lets you draw your conclusions.
12. Flightplan (2005)
English 1h 38m IMDb
Director: Robert Schwentke
Stars: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean
Jodie Foster is Kyle Pratt, a recent widow flying back home with her daughter and her husband’s coffin. After falling asleep on the plane, she finds that her 6-year-old is missing.
As she desperately searches the double-decker plane, she’s forced to question her sanity as the crew is adamant there was no child on board.
This movie has all the ingredients of an excellent psychological thriller, but some viewers have found it too unrealistic. The film is helped by Jodie Foster’s great job portraying a frantic mother with echoes of her performance in The Panic Room.
13. Boy Missing (2016)
Spanish (Spain) 1h 45m IMDb
Director: Mar Targarona
Stars: Blanca Portillo, Antonio Dechent, Vicente Romero
Also known as “Secuestro,” this Spanish-language film follows Patricia (Blanca Portilla), an established lawyer who is trying to figure out who abducted and then released her deaf-mute son Victor (Marc Domènech).
When the police remove the suspect due to lack of evidence, Patricia is left to piece together the clues herself in hopes of finding justice for her vulnerable son.
This is a good crime thriller from the international market that might suffer some pacing issues that can bog things down a little bit. Still, it’s a fine addition to the genre.
14. Kidnap (2017)
English 1h 35m IMDb
Director: Luis Prieto
Stars: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn
Another foray into the world of crime thrillers for Halle Berry. This time she’s playing Karla Dyson, who witnesses her son’s kidnapping and is determined to find out who did it.
Most of the tension is spent in a high-speed chase after Karla spots the kidnapper’s car and pursues it.
A somewhat predictable story that’s not as solid as The Call, likely due to the studio’s multiple bankruptcies while the film was in production. On the upside, we see Halle Berry in a more action-oriented role.
15. Trade (2007)
English 2h IMDb
Director: Marco Kreuzpaintner
Stars: Kevin Kline, Kathleen Gati, Paulina Gaitan
Seventeen-year-old petty criminal Jorge (Cesar Ramos) goes on the search for his thirteen-year-old sister after she goes missing in Mexico City.
In Texas, a Ranger named Ray (Kevin Kline) is on the trail of his lost daughter. These two men’s lives intersect when they investigate the same lead: Mexico’s notoriously vicious human trafficking network.
This is a brutal and disturbing look into the world of human trafficking and the people who are part of it. It’s a film that’s not for the faint of heart.
Fans of grisly realism when dealing with the subject matter will find a lot to like here. Others might want to steer clear.
16. Kiss The Girls (1997)
English 1h 55m IMDb
Director: Gary Fleder
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes
Based on the novel by James Patterson, Kiss the Girls stars Morgan Freeman in what would be the first of many leads in this series. Playing D.C. forensic psychologist Alex Cross, he travels to North Carolina to search for his missing niece.
He discovers she may be one of many victims of a serial killer. The film also stars Ashley Judd as Kate, the only victim to ever escape.
While it’s no breakthrough for the genre, it’s certainly not the worst. It’s probably the best entry in the series and is bolstered by Freeman’s monster-sized acting chops.
Regular crime thriller fans might find the plot a bit thin or uninspired, but there’s still room for entertainment for the casual viewer.
17. Trapped (2002)
English 1h 46m IMDb
Director: Luis Mandoki
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron, Courtney Love
Kevin Bacon and Charlize Theron star as a married couple whose lives are turned upside down when a serial kidnapping gang abducts their asthmatic daughter (Dakota Fanning).
Their woes are only compounded as they are held hostage in their own home while the team tries to extort money in exchange for their daughter’s life.
A film with a lot of psychological drama potential that gets a little clunky in the execution. It’s not a high-IQ take on the genre by any means, but it’s a decent enough thriller. This might be worth a look if you aren’t bothered by cliches and unrealistic plot points.
18. Gone (2012)
English 1h 34m IMDb
Director: Heitor Dhalia
Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley
Jill (Amanda Seyfried) is a young woman struggling to come to grips with the aftermath of her kidnapping by a psychotic serial killer (Socratis Otto). Compounding her trauma is the fact that the police don’t believe her story.
Two years later, her life is still shambles when her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) is kidnapped. Convinced it’s the same man who took her, Jill is on a mission to find her sister and bring the kidnapper to justice.
This movie had a tremendous amount of trouble during production, so it’s not exactly a surprise that it’s a bit of a mess. It was a flop at the time of release, and critical reception wasn’t much better.
However, in recent years it’s gained a new, more appreciative audience. So, while it has flaws, it might just be a sleeper fave to add to your collection.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this look at the best movies like Prisoners. We’ve seen tales of harrowing escapes, parents on the search for their missing children, and sometimes horrifying looks into the criminal underground fed by abduction.
It will be interesting to see what new additions we’ll see in the future.