Getaway (and 5 other films about kidnappings)
Out next week in the UK on Blu-Ray and DVD, Getaway is a taut action thriller that’s part kidnapping film, part driving flick. Directed by Courtney Solomon, the man behind 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons and 2005’s An American Haunting, the film stars Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, with Jon Voigt co-starring as the mysterious villain known only as The Voice.
Ethan Hawke plays Brent Magna, a former racing driver who returns home one day to find his house has been ransacked and his wife is missing. His phone rings and a mysterious voice tells him that If he wants to see his wife again he must head to a parking garage where he will find a car – a Shelby Super Snake to be exact - which he is ordered to steal. He is then given a series of tasks to complete against the clock, which include evading the cops in a series of car chases and, ultimately, stealing a package from a bank.
Things get more complicated when Magna suddenly finds himself being carjacked by a girl referred to only as The Kid (Selena Gomez) who, it turns out (somewhat confusingly), is the car’s real owner.
The film the sees the duo made to jump through a series of hoops by the faceless villain, who is watching Magna’s every move through a series of cameras that have been installed in the car, while Magna himself tries to make sense of why he is being targeted and, more importantly, who by.
It’s a fast-paced film packed with car chases and action sequences that pitches itself somewhere in between Gone in 60 Seconds and Die Hard With A Vengeance. The pace is pretty frenetic throughout, which does get a little exhausting, but if you enjoy films packed with car chases it’s worth a watch. As a car chase film it delivers, as a kidnap film it falls a little short, suffering a little from some flimsy plotlines and never really taking its foot off the gas, but petrolheads will no doubt enjoy it. If it’s the kidnapping element that drew you to this film however, then you could do a lot worse than try one of these on for size…
The film that turned Liam Neeson into an action hero and whose ‘I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you want’ monologue has spawned countless parodies, including ones by Robot Chicken and Family Guy, this 2008 film from Pierre Morel shows how to do a kidnap film properly. Co-written by Luc Besson, the plot sees ex-CIA man Neeson drawn into a web of intrigue when his estranged daughter is kidnapped in Paris. Neeson then proceeds to use his ‘particular set of skills’ to track down the perpetrator. Kind of a surprise hit when it was released in 2008, Taken has all the ingredients that make for a nail-biting thriller.
Ransom’s premise is simple enough: Mel Gibson’s multi-millionaire protagonist finds himself the subject of a ransom kidnapping when his son is snatched by a kidnapper who demands $2million for his return. At first he agrees to play ball, but when the money drop goes wrong he changes his mind and instead offers the money as a bounty on the kidnapper’s head. Ron Howard’s direction ensures this film stays gripping throughout and Gibson gives a great performance as the steely millionaire who refuses to play the kidnapper’s game.
James Caan’s children’s author lives out every famous person’s nightmare when he is ‘rescued’ from a car accident by a superfan played by Kathy Bates, only to discover she is completely unhinged and refuses to let him leave when she discovers he has killed off the leading character in his books. She then proceeds to keep him hostage in her remote mountain home while he is forced to re-write the book and resurrect its protagonist, further debilitating him by breaking his ankles so he cannot escape. Featuring a truly memorable performance from Bates as the psychotic Annie Wilkes, it’s an all-time classic that deserves to be marked as essential viewing.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
This low-budget Brit flick from writer-director J Blakeson shows that you don’t need huge resources to make a great kidnap film. Armed with a decent script and some very capable actors in the shape of Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston and Eddie Marsan, the film sees Alice (Arterton), the daughter of a wealthy businessman snatched by two kidnappers named Vic (Marsan) and Danny (Compston). However, all is not as it seems: unbeknownst to Vic, Danny and Alice are lovers and Alice hates her father for cutting her out of his will, with Danny and Alice planning to keep the ransom cash for themselves. This skillfully executed thriller is full of twists and turns that keep the viewer on the edge of their seat throughout. Highly recommended.
A Life Less Ordinary
Starring Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz, this 1997 film saw Danny Boyle’s direction reunited with the screenwriting abilities of John Hodge in an unusual tale that sees the victim falling in love with her kidnapper. Fired from his job and replaced by a robot, Robert Lewis (MacGregor) decides to exact revenge on his boss by kidnapping his daughter Celine (Diaz), only to discover that she has her own axe to grind with her father and soon she is helping him be a better kidnapper by guiding him through what he should be doing, even suggesting a suitable ransom demand. Unbeknownst to them, however, their situation has been orchestrated by two angels who are part of a sort of romantic celestial police force tasked with bringing together two predetermined individuals in matrimony. Under a new directive set by their boss, the angel Gabriel, failure to do so in this case will result in an eternity on Earth and no way to return to Heaven. Bizarre, funny and heartwarming, it might be a little too sickly for some but it there’s nothing ordinary about this unusual but heartwarming yarn.