20 Best Kidnapping Movies Of All Time

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You’ve heard tales of daring escapes, masterful abduction plots, and vengeful rescues—but these days, you don’t have to explore far beyond the living room to experience the thrills and suspense of an excellent kidnapping movie. Whether you prefer heart-pounding action or intense psychological drama, plenty of films are sure to get the blood pumping and capture your imagination. This article examines the best kidnapping movies of all time, from crime classics to modern masterpieces. So buckle up, grab some popcorn, and explore the thrilling world of kidnapping films.

Taken (2008)

One of the most chilling and intense kidnapping movies on this list is Taken, starring Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent on a mission to save his daughter from sex traffickers. Neeson’s performance as a father who will stop at nothing to rescue his child is riveting, and the film’s high-octane action sequences will leave you breathless. 

But Taken is more than just an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride. It also tackles critical social issues such as human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. The film is a sobering reminder of the dangers lurking beneath the surface of our seemingly safe world. 

If you’re a fan of Taken, you’ll definitely want to check out Prisoners (2013), a similarly harrowing thriller about a father (played by Hugh Jackman) whose daughter goes missing along with her friend. As the investigation drags on with no leads, the father takes matters into his own hands and begins a desperate search for his daughter that leads him down a dark and twisted path. 

Prisoners (2013)

If you enjoyed the movie Taken, then you should watch Prisoners (2013). It’s a thrilling story about a father (played by Hugh Jackman) whose daughter and her friend go missing. Despite the lack of leads from the investigation, the father takes matters into his own hands and embarks on a desperate search for his daughter. The movie takes you on a dark, twisted journey as he navigates the obstacles to find his daughter. 

Prisoners is similar to Taken as it builds tension and suspense, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. However, it also explores the lengths a parent will go to protect their child and the emotional toll it can take on a person.

Man on Fire (2004)

Man on Fire (2004) is another gripping kidnapping movie that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Starring Denzel Washington as John Creasy, a disillusioned former CIA agent turned bodyguard, the film takes place in Mexico City and follows Creasy as he tries to protect a young girl named Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning) from kidnappers.

Washington delivers a powerful performance as Creasy, showcasing his range as an actor and bringing depth to the character’s inner turmoil. Fanning is equally impressive as Pita, displaying a maturity beyond her years and creating a believable bond with Creasy.

The Black Phone (2022)

If you’re looking for a spine-tingling thriller, The Black Phone (2021) is a movie you won’t want to miss. This horror film, based on a short story by Joe Hill, follows the story of a young boy who is abducted by a serial killer. As he attempts to survive, he realizes he can communicate with his kidnapper’s past victims via the black phone in his cell, and, with their help, he tries to escape. Ethan Hawke delivers a chilling performance as the perpetrator, adding an extra layer of terror to an already intense plot.

Misery (1990)

In Misery (1990), a successful author named Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is taken hostage by his biggest fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), after a car accident leaves him stranded in a blizzard. Annie takes care of Paul’s injuries, but as she reads his latest novel, she becomes enraged by the direction of his story and forces him to rewrite it to her liking.

Bates delivers a chilling performance as the obsessive and unstable Annie, while Caan portrays the helpless and trapped Paul with authenticity. The film showcases the psychological power dynamics between captor and captive, painting a picture of the lengths people will go to in order to preserve their sanity.

The film’s themes of obsession, control, and manipulation make for a thrilling and unsettling viewing experience. It’s a perfect precursor to our next movie, Ransom (1996), which also explores the lengths a parent will go to for their child’s safety.

Ransom (1996)

In the realm of kidnapping films, Ransom (1996) delivers a gripping storyline that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The movie revolves around a wealthy New Yorker named Tom Mullen, played by Mel Gibson, whose son gets kidnapped and held for ransom. Mullen must navigate through treacherous negotiations with the kidnappers, and as the situation takes a turn for the worse, he resorts to desperate measures to save his son.

Split (2016)

Another thrilling kidnapping movie that is sure to leave you on the edge of your seat is Split (2016). Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this psychological thriller follows Kevin, a man with dissociative identity disorder, who kidnaps three teenage girls. As the girls desperately try to escape, they realize that Kevin’s various personalities present different levels of danger and they must figure out how to outsmart him before it’s too late.

James McAvoy delivers a masterful performance as Kevin, seamlessly transitioning between his different personalities and leaving the audience wondering what he will do next. The tension in the film builds steadily and culminates in a heart-pounding finale that will leave you speechless.

The Call (2013)

Halle Berry plays Jordan Turner, a 911 operator who receives a call from a girl, Casey (Abigail Breslin), who has been kidnapped and trapped in a car’s trunk. As Jordan tries to keep Casey calm and guide her through the situation, she realizes that the kidnapper is the same man who took another girl and killed her. 

The Call offers a fresh perspective on the kidnapping genre and is a must-watch for fans of thrillers. The film smoothly sets up the next section on Gone Baby Gone (2007), which also deals with the intricate themes of morality and choices.

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Gone Baby Gone (2007) presents a dark and thought-provoking take on the kidnapping genre. Set in Boston, the film revolves around the disappearance of a four-year-old girl and the moral dilemmas faced by private detectives Patrick and Angie while trying to solve the case. 

Directed by Ben Affleck and based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, Gone Baby Gone boasts a stellar cast that includes Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, and Morgan Freeman. The film also features Amy Ryan’s standout performance as the young girl’s drug-addicted mother, adding to the overall complexity of the narrative.

With its engaging plotline and compelling characters, Gone Baby Gone is a must-watch for fans of kidnapping movies and thrillers. The film’s exploration of morality and choices makes it a fascinating watch that continues to be relevant in today’s society.

If you’re looking for a thrilling ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then “Gone Baby Gone” is definitely worth a watch. And if you’re a fan of kidnapping movies in general, then you’ll be excited for Fresh (2022).

Fresh (2022)

Join Noa, portrayed by Daisy Edgar-Jones, on her journey through the unpredictable realm of online dating, and witness the development of her relationship with Steve (Sebastian Stan), a man with some unusual appetites.

Alone (2020)

Alone (2020) is a movie that will make you feel like you are right there with the main character, Jessica, as she tries to outrun her kidnapper and survive in the wilderness. When Jessica sets out on a solo road trip to move on from a recent tragedy, she never could have imagined her car being hijacked by a mysterious man. With no one around to help her, Jessica must fight for her life against her captor, who will stop at nothing to keep her from escaping. This movie is a non-stop thrill ride that will have you rooting for Jessica until the very end.

Moving on to another unforgettable kidnapping movie on our list, Room (2015) is a powerful and heartbreaking film that explores the boundless love between a mother and child in the face of unimaginable adversity.

The Girl Who Escaped: The Kara Robinson Story (2023)

For those looking for more true kidnapping movies, The Girl Who Escaped: The Kara Robinson Story is a must-watch. The film is based on the real-life events of Kara Robinson, who was abducted at 15 and held captive for close to 24 hours before escaping. The movie depicts the bravery and audacity of a young girl fighting for her freedom in the face of extreme danger.

Room (2015)

Room (2015) follows a young mother and her son who are held captive in a small shed for years. Despite the bleak setting, Room is a deeply moving story that explores the power of the love between a mother and child. With incredible performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, this movie will tug at your heartstrings and leave you emotionally invested until the very end.

Proof of Life (2000)

Proof of Life (2000) tells the story of a kidnapping in South America and the negotiations that ensue between the hostage takers and the victim’s family, while highlighting the emotional toll that such events take on everyone involved. The film stars Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, who deliver powerful performances that will keep you invested in their characters’ struggles throughout the movie.

The Lovely Bones (2009)

The Lovely Bones (2009) is a gripping movie that will leave you breathless. Based on the best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, it explores the aftermath of a kidnapping in a unique and haunting way.

The story follows 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who is brutally murdered by her neighbor. However, instead of passing into the afterlife, Susie finds herself stuck, watching over her family and killer.

Director Peter Jackson does a masterful job of creating a dreamlike landscape that blurs the lines between reality and the afterlife. The visuals are stunning, and the emotional performances by Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, and Stanley Tucci will stay with you long after the movie is over.

If you’re looking for a kidnapping movie that explores the aftermath of a tragedy in a unique and thought-provoking way, The Lovely Bones will not disappoint.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey (2018)

Another movie that deserves a spot on our list is Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. This 2018 film is based on the true story of a 17-year-old girl who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a serial killer. The movie follows Lisa’s harrowing experience and how she escaped her captor after two long days. As the title suggests, Lisa’s story is one of resilience, strength, and survival. The film doesn’t shy away from the graphic nature of her abduction but doesn’t exploit it for shock value. Instead, it focuses on Lisa’s bravery and determination to survive, making it a powerful and inspiring watch.

Nick of Time (1995)

In Nick of Time (1995), Johnny Depp stars as a man whose daughter is kidnapped at a Los Angeles train station. The kidnappers demand that he assassinate the Governor of California within 90 minutes in exchange for his daughter’s safe return. 

This film is a masterclass in tension-building, and Depp delivers a stunning performance as an everyday man who finds himself thrust into an extraordinary situation. The supporting cast is equally impressive, creating a sense of danger and unpredictability that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009)

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) is another gripping kidnapping movie that better explores the psychology of a victim. Alice Creed, portrayed by Gemma Arterton, is abducted and held for ransom by two ex-convicts. As the film progresses, it becomes evident that Alice is not just a mere victim but a calculated and cunning character who is more than capable of fighting for her life. 

The film’s intense and claustrophobic atmosphere, coupled with the characters’ complex motivations, make for an enthralling watch.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) offers a unique take on the kidnapping genre, as it revolves around a woman who wakes up in a bunker after a car accident, chained to a wall by a man who claims he saved her from a deadly attack on the outside world. As tensions rise and secrets come to light, the woman must decide whether to trust her captor or risk facing the unknown dangers lurking outside. With a gripping plot and outstanding performances from John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, this movie will keep you on your toes until the very end.

Gone (2012)

In Gone (2012), Amanda Seyfried stars as Jill, a former kidnapping victim who will do whatever it takes to rescue her sister when she goes missing. The movie takes a fast-paced approach to the genre, with intense action scenes and adrenaline-fueled chases. Seyfried gives a compelling performance as a woman struggling to overcome her past trauma and save her loved ones.