25 Best Abduction and Hostage Movies of All Time

“Kidnapping” or “abduction” is one of the most heinous crimes there is. And certainly, it would be grotesque to derive any pleasure out of someone’s kidnapping. Having said that, we humans are complex beings. While we (any decent human being) don’t enjoy kidnapping or, for that matter, any crime in real life, there is an adrenaline rush in watching crime-related (or heavy violence) movies. More often than not, we are rooting for the victim to pull through, and we think that’s what we enjoy watching: the good win over evil. The following movies capture the emotions- be it the horror or the thrill or the heartbreak of having a loved one taken away from you, in the best way.

25. Man on Fire (2004)

Starring Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning, ‘Man on Fire’ revolves around a hardened former CIA agent, John Creasy. His heavy past keeps him from living a so-called “social life.” However, his reluctant acceptance as the bodyguard of a 9-year-old girl named Pita Ramos turns into a blessing in disguise. The little girl brings out the caring person in him, and he forms affection for her. As he is on his way to becoming a better person and is regaining his ability to smile, Pita is kidnapped. Thus, John has to again tap into his former brutal self and find the culprit, no matter what danger lies in his path. Watch the film only for Denzel, who proves yet again why he is considered one of the dopest actors on the planet. Feel free to check out the movie here.

24. Inside Man (2006)

A Spike Lee directorial, this heist thriller stars Denzel Washington (once again), Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Lee masterfully showcases a high-stakes drama inside a Manhattan bank by bringing together Dalton Russell, who is the mastermind thief who has planned the heist; Keith Frazier, who is the lead detective/negotiator handling the situation, and a woman named Madeline White, with personal motives, hired by the bank’s president Arthur Case to protect something valuable of his that is inside the bank. Only time will tell which way the situation slides. To find out, you may check out ‘Inside Man’ right here.

23. Get Out (2017)

‘Get Out’ is a psychological horror flick directed by Jordan Peele with a cast that includes Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, LaKeith Stanfield, Lil Rel Howery, and Catherine Keener. The film offers a unique take on hostage movies and shows what happens when an African-American guy named Chris is brought home, an isolated estate in the middle of the woods, by his girlfriend Rose who is white. While Chris finds Rose’s parents to be completely fine, it is the African-American staff and their behavior that irks him. As time passes, things get weird and eventually sinister. What secret is Rose’s family hiding? To find out, you can stream the film here.

22. Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

An action-packed thriller, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ follows a kidnapping and hostage plot against the President of the United States. In the film, President Asher is kidnapped and kept hostage within the White House bunker after a militant group of North Korean terrorists attacks the White House. Starring ‘300’ star Gerard Butler in another thrilling adventure filled with combat and gun battles, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ was a more aggressive and chilling take on the “Rescue POTUS” genre of Hollywood. Though the film lacked a plot and an exciting storyline, Butler’s character’s blunt attitude and the film’s action sequences are enough to pass your time for a couple of hours. You can check out the film here.

21. The Missing (2003)

Set in 19th-Century America, the film follows Maggie Gilkeson, who is left in a broken state after her young daughter is abducted by a group of slavers who also kill her boyfriend in an invasion. Left with no help and aid, she reunited with her estranged father and embarked on a dangerous journey to retrieve her daughter. Starring Cate Blanchett in the lead role, ‘The Missing’ serves as a Western thriller film with elements of drama perfectly mixed in specific sequences. The film offers expertly acted performances, especially from Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Samuel, Maggie’s father. The film is also praised among critics for its accurate depiction of the Native American culture, as well as its use of the traditional Apache dialect, which is also adopted expertly by Tommy Lee Jones. You can stream it here.

20. Taken 2 (2012)

Yes, its much more acclaimed and thrilling prequel is already on the list, but ‘Taken 2’ deserves its special position on the list, as it had the audience relive the “dark and dangerous side of Qui-Gon” when he finds himself and his wife in the middle of another “taking,” only this time, it’s him they are here to take. Set in Istanbul, ‘Taken 2’ follows the previous film, wherein the families of the Albanian traffickers Bryan killed exact revenge by taking him and his estranged ex-wife during their vacation.

Despite similarities in theme and a predictable storyline, Liam Neeson’s newly found persona of an ass-kicker makes ‘Taken 2’ an awe-inspiring piece of cinema while simultaneously adding another remarkable achievement to Neeson’s list of “awesome work.” A final installment followed the film in the trilogy, which failed to reach the same mark set by its predecessors. You can stream the film here.

19. 12 Years A Slave (2013)

Solomon Northup, a free African-American living in 1841 New York, is kidnapped and sold by two con men to a white slave trader in Washington D.C. ’12 Years A Slave’ follows Northup’s next twelve years of life as a forced slave working in New Orleans cotton plantations, as a “property” of a cruel owner and slave master.

Though primarily a biographical drama, ’12 Years A Slave’ is a true depiction of the abduction and illegal trafficking of free black men in 18th-century America when the nation legally supported the exploitation of black people, regardless they were born free. The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, along with an ensemble including Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong’O, and Brad Pitt. Winner of Best Picture Oscar, ’12 Years A Slave’ is a heartfelt showcase of the racism in Western civilization and the barbaric deeds of inhumanity the black folks were subjected to. You may watch the film here.

18. A Perfect World (1993)

Exploring the concept of Stockholm Syndrome, ‘A Perfect World’ tells the viewers the story of a 7-year-old kid who sparks an unusual bond of friendship with his abductor. The film is not a core kidnapping thriller but a softcore take on the genre, whereby an escaped convict learns the value of relationships and life from his young victim. While the two go on an unexpected road trip to try a new way of life, a Texas ranger takes it upon himself to bring the boy home.

‘A Perfect World,’ despite a studded cast and beautiful direction, is forgotten in the shadows of blockbusters of the 90s. The film is filled with subtle but bravo performances from Kevin Costner, who plays the escaped convict and kidnapper, while a young T.J. Lowther bravely marks his presence among a famed cast by his ambiguous and smart acting delivery. Director Clint Eastwood co-stars as Red, the Texas Ranger assigned with the kidnapping case. Eastwood reduced his screen time to focus on the direction and exploring the main theme of the film. Regarded as one of the year’s finest films, ‘A Perfect World’ is a heartfelt tale, often acknowledged as the most satisfying storyline of all time. You may watch it here.

17. Alpha Dog (2006)

‘Alpha Dog’ presents the true accounts of one of the most unfortunate events of abduction and murder in the century. The film tells the story of Zack Mazrusky, a 15-year-old who is kidnapped by a bunch of young dealers, including his half-brother, over a feud of drug money. Zack, who at first was only taken to be held until his brother had paid his debt to the group’s leader, begins to enjoy his abductors’ company away from his troubles back home. As the story unfolds, the tension in the group rises as they fear the legal ramifications of their doing, leading Zack to face an early and unfortunate demise.

The film is inspired by the true accounts of the murder and kidnapping of Nicholas Markowitz in the year 2000. The film’s cast plays the important characters involved in the incident, with their names changed for the film. ‘Alpha Dog’ is a pack of young artists, which includes Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Ben Foster, Amanda Seyfried, and a young Anton Yelchin as Zack. This young team is joined by veterans Olivia Wilde, Bruce Willis, and Sharon Stone in supporting roles. A moderate success, ‘Alpha Dog’ is a must-watch to commemorate Nicholas, who, unbeknownst to him, suffered a fate he was never meant to. You may watch it here.

16. Taken (2009)

An ex-soldier traveling through Europe embarks on a frantic quest to rescue his daughter after the young girl is abducted by slave traders in this contemporary thriller. This briskly-paced movie delivers a full payload of action, especially due to Liam Neeson’s fantastic screen presence, and it re-established him as an action star too. You can watch ‘Taken’ here.

15. Captain Phillips (2013)

One can argue it is a hijacking story. And that it is. But it ends as a kidnapping story when the pirates kidnap Captain Philips and hold him hostage. In the hands of Paul Greengrass, a director fully aware that convincing crisis stories involve conflicting interests and passions (Watch ‘United 93’, arguably the best hostage film ever made), ‘Captain Phillips’ never loses the grip of the audience’s attention. You can check out the film here.

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14. Saw (2004)

When death knocks at one’s door, and he waits for it to embrace, probably the only thought that comes to mind that how well one has lived this life. But how many have truly understood the purpose of this life? John Kramer, on his deathbed, thinks of this and concludes that until put into adverse situations, no one truly values this life. To inculcate this knowledge to value one’s life, he kidnaps a set of people and then tests their worth to live. The film is unquestionably gory, but at the same time, it offers thrills in abundance. Feel free to check it out here.

13. The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

Widely regarded as the best-ever performance by Gemma Arterton, ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ is a story of young Alice Creed, who is kidnapped by two ex-convicts and is subjected to meticulous torture at the hands of her abductors. What chronicles further are the unexpected and nail-biting events that uncover the mysterious truth behind Alice’s kidnapping.

Shot in a limited set space with a tight budget, ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ is one of the most mind-twisting hostage-standoff thrillers, which is executed by a cast of only three with an impressive show of intelligent and well-fabricated performances. The film’s short running time of 9 minutes provides the viewers with a no-nonsense and no-fuss horror full of violence, terror, and fright. Director J. Blakeson (who also directed the BBC miniseries ‘Gunpowder’) displays profound impeccability in his aesthetically shot sequences of Alice’s torture, which perfectly balances the film’s multiple themes. Adding up to this profoundness is the spectacular performance by Arterton in her most demanding and complex role. You may watch the film here.

12. Misery (1990)

When it comes to films adapted from Stephen King’s novels, you can always expect a fine, thrilling adventure. ‘Misery’ is one such work, which follows a famous novelist who is saved from a car crash by one of his fans, only to find that her psychopathic fan’s caring nature is just the beginning of harsh abuse and nightmares of captivity. Directed by Rob Reiner, ‘Misery’ is a frightening but astonishing film, which is elevated by the appealing performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates.

Many of the film’s sequences received acclaim for their intensity, aesthetic, and realistic direction. In this psychological-horror film, Kathy Bates shines as the villainous Annie Wilkes, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, making ‘Misery’ the only Stephen King adaptation to grab an Oscar. You can watch the movie here.

11. An American Crime (2007)

Based on a true story, ‘An American Crime’ is one of the most horrific and harrowing depictions of abduction, forced house arrest, and kidnapping in Hollywood’s history. The film is based on the true account of house arrest, torture, and gruesome murder of Sylvia Likens, a 16-year-old teenager, that took place in Indiana in 1965. Sylvia Likens was tortured to death by her temporary nanny cum babysitter, Gertrude Baniszewski. ‘An American Crime’ stars a young Elliot Page as Likens, whereas Catherine Keener plays Baniszewski.

‘An American Crime’ is a hard and painful film to watch, but the story of Sylvia deserves to have an opportunity to be heard, and ‘An American Crime’ stands high in doing that. As far as the performances are concerned, the film belongs to Elliot Page and Keener. While Page found fame the same year in their titular role in the drama film ‘Juno,’ the role in ‘An American Crime’ was left unnoticed, which is far better proof of their talent and acting skills. On the other hand, Keener brilliantly succeeds in making every viewer hate her guts, which also earned her an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Movie category. Though the film failed to attract viewers and critics during its release, it has since gained immense popularity and following among young audiences. You can check out the movie here.

10. Room (2015)

Starring Brie Larson, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her part, Jacob Tremblay and Sean Bridgers, the movie revolves around Joy “Ma” Newsome and her 5-year-old son Jack. While both seem to be sharing a loving mother-son relationship in their room, it slowly becomes clear that the room has been their whole world for the last seven years. A guy named Old Nick kidnapped Joy and brought her here, and it is he who fathered Jack by raping her, something he still does while Jack sleeps in the wardrobe. Thus, Jack has no idea of what lies outside the 10-by-10-foot room. So, while Joy begins to chalk out an escape plan, she wonders about the overwhelming dangers that lie ahead for Jack, the largest room that ever existed, the world. Will they be able to escape? If you want to know, you can stream the film here.

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9. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Ben Affleck’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel Gone Baby Gone stars Casey Affleck as Patrick Kenzie, a private investigator from working-class Boston who takes on a case involving a kidnapped girl. The film is a superb crime thriller, a tense meditation on morality in the modern world. ‘Gone Baby Gone’ isn’t only hard-hitting, but it’s also meaningful, emotional, and resonating. You can stream ‘Gone Baby Gone’ here.

8. Prisoners (2013)

Fear has such power over minds that it can paralyze people like a tarantula does to its prey. Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners’ effectively explores the fear of the unknown, the boundaries of morality, and the dilemmas of human conscience. Let me warn you right away – It’s disturbing and makes you shiver to the marrows. And you wonder, what if it happens to you? You can stream the film here.

7. Oldboy (2003)

Think of the person who might have caused you the pain of a lifetime, though inadvertently. What would you do? Will you forgive him and move on? Or will you make him suffer through hell and leave him scarred till the end of time? Lee Woo Jin chose the second, and what unfurled over fifteen years and subsequent five days can be best described as ghastly, terrible, and devastating. Once avenged, Lee Woo Jin keeps his part of the promise and dies but spares a thought for Oh Dae Su, who is left alive, cursing himself till eternity. Yoo-Ji Tae plays Lee Woo Jin in this epic saga of revenge. You may watch ‘Oldboy’ here.

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6.  All The Money in the World (2017)

Ridley Scott’s ‘All the Money in the World’ is the true ordeal of the events revolving around the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the grandson of business magnate and once the richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty. The film covers the search for 16-year-old Getty III after his rich grandad publicly refused to pay for the ransom amount asked by his abductors to grant his safe release from captivity. ‘All the Money in the World’ is a captivating drama that enthralls the viewers with its dark but effective tone and, as well as the detrimental but heart-throbbing direction of Scott. The film stars Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, and Mark Wahlberg, among whom Plummer easily and expansively shines the most with his entertaining, scary, and far-from-subtle portrayal of J. Paul. You may watch the film here.

5. High and Low (1963)

A wealthy industrialist’s son gets kidnapped, but soon, he realizes that it was his chauffeur’s son who was kidnapped; he begins to balk at the amount of money he wants to pay. The film is more of a moral examination of how you value one human life more than others. It’s a melodramatic morality play that only an immensely subtle director like Akira Kurosawa could pull off. You can watch ‘High and Low’ here.

4. Blue Velvet (1986)

David Lynch’s crime thriller ‘Blue Velvet’ is a slippery journey through the dark corridors of psychopathic criminals. The film narrates the story of a young man who deliberately gets caught in a web of crimes involving a gorgeous nightclub singer and a group of criminals who have kidnapped her child. The film is a hallucinogenic mystery-thriller that probes beneath the cheerful surface of suburban America to discover sadomasochistic violence, corruption, drug abuse, crime, and perversion. Feel free to check out the movie here.

3. Fargo (1996)

Upon repeated viewings, the craft used in the making of this masterpiece becomes perfectly clear. Remember the noir epics of the 40s (‘The Maltese Falcon,’ ‘The Third Man,’ etc.) and how they achieved great tension and artfully used black as a medium to portray the darkness at the heart of their story and the characters? Well, ‘Fargo’ achieves the same, albeit with white. The plot is complex, but the storytelling isn’t; the situations are complex, but the characters aren’t. That’s film-making gold for you, and that is how you make a kidnapping comic-thriller. Feel free to check out the film here.

2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

One of the finest thrillers ever made, this film swept the Academy Awards, deserving each Oscar it won and possibly deserving of a couple of others. The majority of the film is about getting hold of Buffalo Bill, the serial killer who has kidnapped the US Senator’s daughter before he kills her. Smart and taut, it teeters on the edge of psychological study and all-out horror while also encompassing stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. You may watch the film here.

1. Inception (2010)

Directed by Christopher Nolan, ‘Inception’ is a corporate espionage thriller that shows a group of people infiltrating a man’s subconscious and accessing his dreams to plant an idea that will eventually take the shape of him dissolving his father’s company. This task has been given to them by the rival company’s owner so that he can dominate the industry. The film explores a dream-within-a-dream concept in which the first level includes kidnapping the man in question and then moving forward with inception, which is the process of planting the idea. One of the best science fiction movies ever, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, and Ken Watanabe. You can stream it here.

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