Top 10 Fictional Hostage Movies

They're tense situations involving criminals taking hostages in order to commit a crime! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 fictional hostage movies. Please be advised, this clip contains spoilers. And just to clarify, we’re only including fictional films in which the authorities get involved, the general location of the hostages is known and the captor isn’t in it for sadistic amusement.
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Top 10 Fictional Hostage Movies


Give them what they want or the hostage gets it! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 fictional hostage movies.

Please be advised, this clip contains spoilers. And just to clarify, we’re only including fictional films in which the authorities get involved, the general location of the hostages is known and the captor isn’t in it for sadistic amusement.

#10 – “Mad City” (1997)


Kicking off our list is the film in which John Travolta takes museum visitors hostage after he’s laid off as a museum guard. With Dustin Hoffman as an opportunistic television journalist, the situation quickly devolves into a network spectacle. This blue-collar hostage flick isn’t about elaborate getaways or a robbery, but it is memorable for its exploration of themes like desperation and the role of the media.

#9 – “John Q” (2002)


This flick features Denzel Washington as the desperate man who decides to take a stand. He holds an emergency room captive when he is refused insurance for his son’s heart transplant operation. A moving and sentimental tale where the hostages themselves become sympathetic to his plight, the movie uses its screen time to make a poignant commentary about the broken state of the American Health care system.

#8 – “Airheads” (1994)


The music made them do it! This cult comedy features Adam Sandler, Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi as a group of unsigned musicians called “The Lone Rangers” who take a radio station hostage to get their song heard. True to the title, they are bumbling nitwits who pack water guns, and have no contingency plan. Not only is this our most ridiculous entry, it’s also the most hilarious.

#7 – “The Ref” (1994)


It’s Denis Leary’s turn to play the kidnapper when he holds a bickering family captive during the holidays when the police roadblock the entire town. He needs the hostages as insurance after he burgles some jewelry, but when he is driven crazy by their issues, he decides to play counselor. This sitcom setup spurs countless laughs by slowly transforming the armed smart mouthed criminal into a beloved family friend.

#6 – “The Negotiator” (1998)


After becoming a scapegoat for corruption on the police force, Samuel L. Jackson’s negotiator turns the tables and takes hostages in order to clear his name. Not only does this ‘90s hostage thriller pack several twists, it is also one helluva nail biter since it pits two equally skilled negotiators against each other and surrounds them with cops of questionable moral fiber.

#5 – “Air Force One” (1997)


Thirty-thousand feet in the air, terrorists seize control of the president’s plane to use the Commander-in-Chief as leverage to secure the release of a political prisoner. By evading capture and fighting back, Harrison Ford saves the day in a pulse pounding scenario, where it’s more than just the lives of his family at stake. This flick gets extra points for depicting the president as a badass action hero.

#4 – “Inside Man” (2006)


This clever bank heist thriller focuses on the clash between a determined cop, a hostage negotiator and a genius bank robber who’s out to land the perfect heist. Taking every outcome into consideration, Clive Owen’s mastermind carefully arranges and dresses his hostages and rotates his men among them. A complex and gripping hostage scenario, this Spike Lee joint also features his mandatory focus on racial commentary and tension.

#3 – “The Taking of Pelham 123” (1974)


Far superior to the 2009 remake, this film focuses on armed hijackers who take control of a New York subway, and threaten passengers’ lives in exchange for $1 million in cash within the hour. With the police forced to fork over the dough, this movie’s biggest thrill, aside from the tension, is seeing how the criminals intend to escape while completely surrounded and underground!

#2 – “Die Hard” (1988)


Yippee-ki-yay! This iconic action flick sees German terrorists crash an office Christmas party, and take the staff captive. While their plot is eventually unraveled by cowboy cop John McClane, their hostage taking ploy stands out in moviedom as it’s a mere distraction: while they do make political demands, they are actually just thieves trying to get to a vault before they kill everyone and fake their own deaths.

#1 – “Speed” (1994)


Taking the top spot on our list is the fastest-paced action flick of them all, which keeps viewers at the edge of their seats! Unlike the usual fare, this film’s captor holds his hostages from a distance, by rigging a bus to explode. Unable to escape or slow down, Keanu Reeves tries to save the day as he faces traffic hurdles, works with hostages and is under the bomber’s constant surveillance.

Do you agree with our list? Which hostage movie is your favorite? For more entertaining top 10s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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