Sometimes the best monsters are those walking around with the rest of us, which is apparent in these hostage movies worth stealing. Tremble before situations that are almost as dire as that time you were held against your will in a public restroom because you realized too late that someone took all the toilet paper. Double bolt the doors and make sure everyone knows how little money you have in the bank so you don’t end up like all the other cinematic victims.
“Man on Fire” Denzel Washington takes his severe stare and turns it on the baddies that took a little girl hostage. Throw in a warrior aesthetic, explosions, a little girl and a lot of bullets and you have a hostage film that provides a victim that most people want saved and enough action to sate an audience out for blood. With Washington’s “less is more” style of acting in “Man on Fire,” his actions carry a weight missing from other hostage movies. Whether you’re gunning for action sequences like a certain perfect use of a grenade or tension-filled drama, you’ll be well satisfied.
“Taken” Tackling the even darker aspect of kidnapping by utilizing a story about the sex slave trade, “Taken” delivers a story that does a decent job of illustrating the underpublicized sex trade problem while keeping the audience grinding their teeth as they live out their vicarious revenge fantasies. Liam Neeson proves that age has nothing to do with the ability to be a terrible force of nature as he cuts a wide swatch through the men who have taken his child. Although it’s considerably less creepy than the subject matter, pay attention to the overtelegraphed hands of
“The Disappearance of Alice Creed” Single set films live and die by the actors and the story. “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” has a story that provides decent twists and the shifting dynamics of the actors, which relies heavily on external influences. The last few minutes keep the energy built up throughout this hostage film rather than letting it collapse like a slow leak in a tire. The shifts between submission and dominance in all three actors mark this film as a great effort.
“Die Hard“ Male pattern baldness gets its day in the sun as Bruce Willis dispatches the bad guys with lines that would soon become trademarks of a franchise film. “Die Hard” makes the grade not just for the humor and self-deprecation but also for the serious look at all the pitfalls and situations that a hero can encounter before, during and after gunfights. Bullets fly, glass breaks and suddenly acquiring some footwear becomes a life or death situation. Without McClane’s wife as one of the hostages, the hostages would become no more than backdrops, but her character keeps the human-interest angle alive even if the majority gets to go to Willis. One heck of a shoot ‘em up film that still manages to keep one foot in reality while the other foot is firmly planted in the world of fun escapism.
“Ransom” Before what fans of “Lethal Weapon” and “Braveheart” now refer to as “the bad times” or “the present,” Mel Gibson could fire up the old acting skills and the audience would buy it happily. “Ransom” falls into those halcyon days of yore where Gibson gives off an intensity that is hard to mimic while playing with a charisma that gives him an everyman feel. The best part of this film is that it doesn’t do the standard turn the tables on the bad guys; instead, it goes for a complete flipping of the script and makes the kidnappers the new victims and the general public the new hunters. Fall into the emotional turmoil between the father and mother as they deal with a situation that’s way scarier than how to pay for daycare.