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5 Movies like Prisoners: Emotional Mysteries

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Hannah Nwoko itcherSuspenseful movies like ‘Prisoners’ tend to be emotional, thought-provoking and distressingly realistic. If you’re after artistic crime mystery films surrounding disappearances and murder mysteries, check out ‘Mystic River’, ‘Memories of Murder’ and ‘Gone Baby Gone’. ~ Hannah Nwoko

Perfectly Paced Thriller

‘Prisoners’ was definitely one of my favourite films of 2013 – it was dark, gritty and mysterious with a dreary setting throughout.

We could easily empathise with characters, in particular Hugh Jackman who played the father of a missing girl in a dramatic and emotional fashion. His distress, lack of hope, moral struggles and desperation were conveyed inextricably well in the movie and allowed us to attach ourselves to him and his pain.

Jake Gyllenhaal did a fantastic job of playing a suspicious investigating detective who seemed disconnected but enamoured with the case. Without a shadow of a doubt, Jackman and Gyllenhaal gave their best performances of their careers in ‘Prisoners’.

The whole movie slowly unravels the truth through twists, emotional turmoil and suspenseful complexity which make it compelling from start to finish.

If you’re a fan of thought-provoking films like ‘Prisoners’, read on for similar recommendations.


Movies Similar to ‘Prisoners’…

‘Mystic River’ (Clint Eastwood, 2003)

‘Mystic River’ bears quite a few similarities to ‘Prisoners’ – something bad happens to a girl and her father begins to suspect someone and takes the law into his own hands.

The film received universal critical acclaim and I can understand why; there is tension throughout, morality issues and constant mystery.

Similarity Match: 90%
Like ‘Prisoners’ this movie has an extremely strong cast which makes the acting truly believable and intense, but the main difference is the toughness and brutal nature of the movie.

‘Gone Baby Gone’ (Ben Affleck, 2007)

‘Gone Baby Gone’ is a neo-noir mystery film about a missing girl and the hunt to find her. The investigating detectives find themselves in a professional and personal crisis involving morality, drugs and violence.

The story is undoubtedly complex but viewers can still follow and understand it. It’s a great directorial piece from Ben Affleck, it was a pleasant surprise and it even made 65 critics’ top ten lists of the best films of 2007.

Similarity Match: 80%
Like ‘Prisoners’, ‘Gone Baby Gone’ surrounds mystery and suspicion, but I found the latter more complex in its narrative.

‘Memories of Murder’ (Bong Joon-ho, 2003)

While this movie centres on murders of women and not missing girls, both movies still share similarities in terms of genre, dark/ haunting cinematography and gripping storytelling.

It’s an outstanding Korean film that is based on real shocking murders that took place in South Korea in the 80s. I haven’t come across a single person who doesn’t like this movie – it caters to everything a movie-lover wants, especially those into the detective genre.

Similarity Match: 65%
I found this movie to be slightly more artistic than ‘Prisoners’, however, if you’re into detective movies without all the usual cheap tricks, both are excellent choices.

‘M’ (Fritz Lang, 1931)

This is the movie that started the serial killer subgenre – it’s dark and it’s clever and for its time, ‘M’ stood out as a cat and mouse chase crime movie.

The movie is largely about taking the law into your own hands when heinous situations arise, similarly to ‘Prisoners’ but in a more aggressive manner.

The film’s narrative presented other criminals joining in the manhunt for a pathological child-killer and in the end we kind of feel pity for the killer because although he has committed treacherous crimes, no one seems to notice or address his mental instability.

Similarity Match: 55%
‘M’ has a similar slow pace to ‘Prisoners’, but it deals with very different themes such as mob mentality and compulsion.


If You Like ‘Prisoners’, You Will Like…

While the movies above are far more emotionally compelling with dramatic scenes and visible distress in the narratives, the next recommendation masks the emotional vulnerability with action while sticking to a similar theme.

‘Taken’ (Pierre Morel, 2008)

The abduction of a daughter is the main connecting theme in ‘Taken’ and ‘Prisoners’.

Like in ‘Prisoners’, Liam Neeson plays a dad who will stop at nothing to get his daughter back meaning he is happy to take the law into his own hands.

‘Taken’ is probably one of the best action flicks I’ve seen – it’s full of great dialogue, epic action scenes and an engaging narrative.

I’m sure most of you have watched it already but if you haven’t, it’s a must-see!

‘Taken’ is more action packed but has a similar concept to ‘Prisoners’, including the desperate father narrative.


Chilling, Effective and Real

A lot of the movies on this list will touch a nerve – each of them tells distressing stories, particularly ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Gone Baby Gone’. On the other hand, movies like ‘Taken’ kind of push aside the sadness and awful realism through exciting action sequences.

They’re all fantastic movies to watch in their own right and are not only artistically impressive but also boast impressive casts.

If you have any similar suggestions, please let us know!

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