8 Best Kidnapping Movies on HBO Max (March 2024)

Abduction is traditionally a subgenre of thriller films, though it can also fall under the horror and exploitation umbrellas. The protagonist can be any of the people intimately involved with the case – from the abductees themselves to abductors to bereaved family members to the law enforcement officials investigating the case. It all depends upon the story a given filmmaker wants to tell. With an extensive library of films belonging to every subject imaginable, HBO Max offers a wide variety of stories to its audience, including movies that are centered around a character landing themselves in a pickle when they are abducted.

8. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino, based on Robert Kurtzman’s story, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ is more than a kidnapping movie that does justice to the titular theme. It is an action horror that follows brothers/ fugitive bank robber Seth (George Clooney) and Richie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) who, while escaping after robbing a bank, take a pastor and his two children hostage and arrive at a strip club in the Mexican border. While waiting for their contact, the brothers get involved in a brawl only to find out that the natives of the bar aren’t humans but vampires. Their new job is to survive till dawn, as only after sunrise is it safe to get out and escape. ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ won the Best Horror Film award at Saturn Awards, making it clear how entertaining and effective the movie is. You can watch it here.

7. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)

‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ is a Spanish dark romantic comedy that stars Antonio Banderas as Ricky, a 23-year-old psychiatric patient. After his release from the facility he was in, Ricky decides to seek out Marina Osorio, an actress and former porn star. They slept together once when she was in the facility for her drug issues. Ricky finds her and tries to get her attention, though Marina doesn’t recognize him. Ricky then captures her and keeps her restrained in her own home, declaring that he has done this so that she will fall in love with him. To find out what Marina does, you can stream the movie here.

6. The Fury (1978)

Directed by Brian De Palma, this supernatural horror film is underscored by telepathy. As interesting as it may sound for a 1970s film, it is the story and its execution that make things more interesting than the subject. When Robin (Andrew Stevens) is kidnapped by a guy named Ben Childress (John Cassavetes), who intends to use Robin’s psychic abilities to develop weapons for the American government, Robin’s father, Peter Sandza (Kirk Douglas), who is a CIA agent, reaches out to high-school student Gillian Bellaver (Amy Irving), another psychic, with the hope that she can help him find his son and get him back safely. Will his plan be successful? ‘The Fury’ is based on the 1976 novel by John Farris, who also wrote the screenplay. You can watch it here.

5. Fargo (1996)

A black comedy written and directed by the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan Coen), ‘Fargo’ tells the story of Jerry Lundegard (William H. Macy), a car salesman hailing from Minneapolis and facing a cash crunch. He decides to use his father-in-law’s money to come out of it. He thus hires two thugs, Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaer Grimsrud (Peter Stormare), to get his wife kidnapped, and the ransom shall be split among the three of them. But things do not go as planned, and three people are killed. This brings persistent and pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) onto the case. True to the genre, the movie has a lot of dark humor, and thanks to the acting prowess of Buscemi and Stormare, it never feels over-the-top.

There are many reports regarding the truth behind the plot. The director duo stated that they wrote a fictional story based on a real incident that occurred in Minnesota in 1987 and later contradicted that the murders didn’t happen in Minnesota, while many Minnesotans speculated that the story was inspired by an attorney named T. Eugene Thompson who hired a man to have his wife killed in 1963. The special edition DVDs stated that the film was inspired by the murder of Danish flight attendant Helle Crafts at the hands of her husband in 1986. In 2015, Joel Coen even stated that the whole story is fictional. So, no one really knows the truth behind the story, or at least no one is willing to tell. You can watch ‘Fargo’ here.

4. Man on Fire (2004)

‘Man on Fire’ is directed by Tony Scott and is based on the 1980 novel by A. J. Quinnell. The movie is set against the backdrop of Mexico City, which has fallen prey to kidnappings, 24 in a 6-day period, and tells the story of hopeless and depressed former CIA operative John Creasy (Denzel Washington), who is given the responsibility, albeit a reluctant one, of guarding 9-year-old Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning), daughter of industrialist Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) and his wife Lisa (Radha Mitchell). Slowly, Pita begins to make life seem less harsh for John, who starts to smile again. But his smiles are short-lived as Pita is also kidnapped, and he receives a bullet in the process. Wounded and enraged, John vows to find each and every single person involved in the kidnapping and, in his endeavor, digs up corruption in high places of power, which plays a huge part in the kidnapping racket.

Denzel Washington is a feast for the eyes as no-holds-barred agent John Creasy. And we cannot help but connect this character to another character he immortalized, i.e., Robert McCall in ‘The Equalizer’ franchise. We never know; maybe his performance in ‘Man on Fire’ inspired the franchise makers to greenlight it. Be that as it may, this movie is another proof of Denzel being an action star. You can stream ‘Man on Fire’ here.

3. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock, ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ surrounds a secret as revealed to Jill (Edna Best) and Bob Lawrence (Leslie Banks) by a dying Frenchman, Louis Bernard, who has been shot. The secret reveals a planned assassination of a government official (later revealed to be orchestrated by a guy named Abbot (Peter Lorre)). But when the culprits, who killed Louis, kidnap the couple’s daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam) to force them to keep their mouth shut, the couple finds itself helpless, especially since the police offer no help. Will they be able to save their daughter? To find out, you can stream this classic spy thriller right here.

2. High and Low (1963)

From legendary director Akira Kurosawa comes a noir thriller that is a brilliant commentary on contemporary society and capitalism, underscored by a kidnapping. It follows wealthy industrialist Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune), who is faced with the tough decision of whether to use his money to pay the huge ransom to those who have kidnapped his chauffeur’s son or use that money to seal his position and gain control of a shoe company for which he has mortgaged all he owns. His decision, the consequences of the decision, and the way Mr. Kurosawa executes them are what make this film a must-watch for any cinephiles. Loosely adapted from Ed McBain’s (pen name: Ed McBain) 1959 novel “King’s Ransom,” ‘High and Low’ can be streamed here.

1. Room (2015)

Brie Larson won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as 24-year-old Joy Newsome, who was kidnapped by a guy named Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) 7 years ago and has since been routinely raped inside a 10-by-10-foot space she calls the “Room.” It has only a skylight, and the door is locked with a keypad whose code only Old Nick knows. Five years ago, Joy gave birth to Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who was brought up with the utmost care and thought that the room was his whole world. Nick isn’t bothered about Jack, who his mother puts inside a closet so neither he nor she can see each other during Nick’s “visits.” Wondering what would happen to them if something happened to Nick, Joy chalks out a plan to escape. But she also fears how the outside world will affect Jack, who has no idea of it at all.

The movie, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, is based on the 2010 novel of the same name, written by Emma Donoghue, who based it on the Fritzl case. Donoghue also wrote the screenplay for the film. “Room” is both horrifying and beautiful, and this is what makes watching it a deeply moving experience. You can watch the film here.

Read More: Best Abduction Movies of All Time