The superb Argo is out in cinemas at the moment and you won't see a more nail-biting, edge-of-your seat thriller all year (check out Rory's glowing review here). We thought it was a good opportunity to list our other favourite hostage and kidnapping movies:
1. Die Hard
It had to be top of the list and it goes without saying, one of the greatest action movies of all time. A resourceful NYPD detective takes on a building full of bad guys to save a group of hostages that includes his wife, cracking out the one-liners as he goes. Alan Rickman (in his film debut) almost steals the show as evil mastermind Hans Gruber and his verbal sparring with McClane is a delight throughout. Virtually every action star in Hollywood from Arnie to Sly Stallone turned down the role of John McClane until Bruce Willis made the grubby vest his own. Yippee-ki-yay indeed!
Or The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down as Homer Simpson likes to call it. A seriously unhinged Dennis Hopper puts a bomb on a bus in LA that will explode if its speed drops below 50 mph. It's up to hero cop Keanu Reeves to save the hostages on board and he's helped by a sparky Sandra Bullock, who actually learned how to drive a bus for her role and passed her test on the first attempt. Speed is a superb action-packed thriller, though it's hard to watch it these days without thinking of Dougal in the brilliant Father Ted parody. The less said about the awful sequel the better.
The film that relaunched our Liam Neeson as a badass action hero. He plays former CIA operative Bryan Mills, whose daughter ("teenager" Maggie Grace) gets abducted by some shady Albanian crooks to be used in a prostitution ring. They soon find out that they messed with the wrong hombre. Neeson himself believed that the film would go straight to DVD but the movie was a massive worldwide hit. His iconic speech to his daughter's kidnappers may have had something to do with this:
4. The Silence of the Lambs
This movie is remembered for the chilling Hannibal Lecter, but the main thrust of the plot is the kidnapping of a senator's daughter by crazy serial killer Buffalo Bill. Bill keeps his victims in a pit for a few days before he kills them to make a costume out of their skin ("It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again!") It's up to Jodie Foster's FBI Agent Clarice Starling to save her, provided she can enlist Hannibal's assistance in time. The Silence of the Lambs swept the Oscars in 1992 and gave us one of film's most unforgettable villains in the aforementioned Hannibal the Cannibal.
5. Dog Day Afternoon
Al Pacino gave one of his greatest ever performances in this brilliant seventies flick. He plays Sonny Wortzik, a nervous first-time criminal who attempts to rob a bank in order to pay for his lover's sex change operation. It goes disastrously wrong and develops into a hostage situation and a huge media event. It is amazingly based on a true story - the real-life Sonny and his partner Sal (played by John Cazale) developed a great camaraderie with the hostages and the bank manager thought they were hilarious. Pacino is a livewire throughout and it cemented his reputation as one of the best actors in Hollywood.
A Coen Brothers classic and many would agree one of the films of the 90s. Spineless, failed car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (a never better William H. Macy) comes up with a harebrained scheme to have his wife kidnapped and collect the ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. Frances McDormand won a deserved Oscar for her role as Marge Gunderson, the pregnant sheriff who cracks the case. It's a hilarious dark comedy that gets better on each viewing. The Coens wrote the role of hitman Carl Showalter with Steve Buscemi in mind - I wonder how he enjoyed being called "funny lookin'" in this memorable scene:
7. Man on Fire
Directed in typical flashy, kinetic style by the late Tony Scott, Denzel Washington plays a former CIA agent turned bodyguard who goes on a violent rampage when the girl he's protecting (Dakota Fanning) is abducted. Who could forget one of cinema's more inventive uses of a bomb in THAT explosive interrogation scene? Washington said that the only two actors to stop him in his tracks in all his years of acting were Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide and Dakota Fanning in Man on Fire. She was 10 years old at the time of filming and is scarily good.
8. The Negotiator
This under-rated thriller is about the policemen trained to deal with hostage negotiation. Samuel L. Jackson is the best in the business, but the tables are turned with he takes a load of hostages for himself in a bid to clear his name of some false allegations. Kevin Spacey is the negotiator from a nearby precinct charged with talking him out of it. It develops into a battle of wits between the pair and shows two of the best actors of their generation at the top of their game. Also any film that has Jackson say "Motherf**ker" has to be worth a look.
9. Phone Booth
Colin Farrell plays Stu Shepard, a cocky publicist who has been cheating on his wife (Robin Wright Penn) and worse still, his mistress Katie Holmes doesn't even know he's married. He calls her on a public payphone and just as he's about to leave, it rings and he picks up. The Caller (Kiefer Sutherland) tells him if he leaves the phone booth he will be killed by a shot from his sniper rifle. He wants no ransom, just for Stu to admit his infidelities to the two ladies in his life. This claustrophobic real-time thriller was released in 2003 when Farrell was one of the hottest new stars in Hollywood and is one of his better films. It certainly makes you think twice about answering a ringing payphone, though there ain't too many of those around these days.
This is a Stephen King story of a famous author named Paul Sheldon (James Caan) who is nursed back to health by his number one fan after a nasty car accident. When she learns that Sheldon is about to kill off her favourite character in his next book, things take an unpleasant turn. Misery is a sweat-inducing, worst nightmare scenario and Kathy Bates hit a career high with her portrayal of the frightening Annie Wilkes. The famous sledgehammer scene is enough to make anyone wince - here it is if you're brave enough to watch!
By: Peter Boyle