One of the magical things about cinema is how it can enrapture us with movies inspired even by horrific stories like kidnapping.
These are awful times in the life of a family to face while trying to maintain strong nerves when fearing for a loved one’s life.
However, perhaps it is precisely in these situations of extreme stress that we come out who we are.
Coming face to face with the helplessness of not being able to do anything but wait, aspects of ourselves emerge that we were unaware of.
The brave may then discover that he is a coward, just as the kind can become wrathful and insufferable.
On the other hand, even the quiet and timid can find anger and firmness they didn’t think they had, enduring beyond what they could imagine.
There have been some very famous kidnappings in history, which inevitably became the inspiration for many films.
Above all, we can remember the famous Lindbergh case, the American national hero whose baby was stolen in its cradle by a madman in search of easy money.
This event soon became a media and political case, upsetting a nation already struggling with one of the worst economic crises ever.
It was also the catalyst behind the government’s efforts to institute a series of laws leading to the growth of surveillance agencies such as the FBI.
These stories quickly escalate, bringing in shady characters to build their fame and careers upon other people’s pain.
You will read all this and much more shortly in the movies that await you about three exceptional kidnapping cases.
1- Ransom (1996)
Our first case is the kidnapping movie about the son of a wealthy businessman.
Obviously, the family is distraught and immediately contacts the police, negotiating with the kidnappers.
They demand two million dollars to release him, threatening to harm the child if the father is not delivered directly.
Just at the crucial moment, however, something goes wrong, and the payment of the money falls through.
Enraged, the kidnappers increase their demands as compensation for the outrage incurred.
At that point, the father realizes that they have no intention of returning his son alive.
Against the advice of the police and his wife, the man decides to take matters into his own hands.
At that point, through his influence, he convinces a network to interview him on live television.
Surprising everyone, he announces that he intends to use that money by turning it into a bounty on their heads.
So, whoever knows something about the kidnappers will earn two million.
That is, if the information, of course, then leads to their capture in any way, dead or alive.
A fight immediately arises within the group, dividing them in a bloody way.
Some want to escape and drop everything, yet others plan to continue and cash in any way they can.
However, the father doesn’t know that one of the detectives investigating the case is part of the kidnappers.
Things get difficult to plot against his fellow cops and even his criminal accomplices.
Things get complicated for him, who has to fool his fellow cops and criminal accomplices.
However, ultimately the corrupt cop decides to push through, planning to keep all the money for himself.
Don’t mess with family
Ransom is an excellent thriller full of tension and twists and turns behind the great hand of Ron Howard.
The American director, always a guarantee of good entertainment, packs a captivating story that changes direction every minute.
Fear develops on two different levels, all of them closely bound together scene after scene.
At one end, we have the family that becomes more and more desperate as it sees every solution vanish over time.
On the flip side, we have the internal conflict within the kidnappers’ group, which is even more complex.
The more powerless they become, the more they realize they’ll probably never see the money.
We have a great cast supporting this power play between both sides to play each role at its best.
The main protagonist is Mel Gibson, a loving father who is also an authoritarian man not used to taking orders from anyone.
It’s no coincidence that his TV moment is the real turning point of the story when the roles of victim and perpetrator finally flip.
As a counterbalance, we have the wife who is doubtful about her husband’s attitude, begging him to change his mind and pay without fuss.
The beautiful Rene Russo is a former model who becomes an actress who already worked with Gibson in Lethal Weapon 3 and 4.
Finally, the story’s villain is Gary Sinise, an excellent versatile actor capable of playing every part with style and charisma.
In this case, he is a cold and wicked unscrupulous cop, playing his game to checkmate everyone.
Summing up, Ransom is one of the most exciting kidnapping movies from the 90s.
Ron Howard proves that he can direct with class and the right pace, perfectly blending the thriller and family drama genres.
2- All The Money In The World (2017)
For the second movie, we travel to Italy for a movie about the real-life kidnapping of young John Paul Getty III.
The boy was the grandson of the famous Jean Paul Getty, one of the world’s richest and most powerful men.
Unfortunately, this tycoon and philanthropist of the industry have a terrible relationship with his mother, who never wanted to depend on his wealth.
So when the kidnappers demand a ransom, the man incredibly refuses to pay.
Although the $17 million they’re asking for is negligible to him, the matter of principle is more important.
In front of the international press, the story becomes a family power struggle between the mother and her tyrannical grandfather.
The woman, friendless and without strength, must do her best to scrape together as much money as possible.
Running from one side to the other, she resorts to loans and donations of all kinds and from anyone.
Simultaneously, she confronts the kidnappers, realizing she can’t raise the abnormal amount of money they demand.
As a result, when they realize they will never see these millions, they sell him to a criminal gang.
A former CIA agent is the only one who seems willing to help, using his experience in hostage negotiations.
Initially, the wealthy tycoon hires him to keep an eye on the woman’s moves.
But the man then follows his conscience, really helping her and trying to end this drama.
However, the Mafia gang that bought the boy is a tougher opponent than the thugs who kidnapped him.
The search for their shelter then becomes a race against time as they grow increasingly impatient and ready to kill.
Money is not important, is the only thing that matters
All the Money in the World is a terrifying kidnapping movie, where the fear comes more from the kidnapped family than from the kidnappers.
Indeed, the grandfather’s ruthless attitude toward his young daughter-in-law literally chills the blood in his veins.
As he coldly calculates, a half-day’s interest on his investments would be more than enough to pay the ransom.
But what he cannot tolerate is the woman’s independence towards him in a family where he used to rule unchallenged.
There was initially the great Kevin Spacey, who certainly would have acted very well for this role.
Unfortunately, he gave up because of the famous scandal and harassment allegations, leaving the cinema for a while.
The equally fantastic Christopher Plummer came halfway through the production, who had to redo all his colleague’s scenes.
Divine Michelle Williams as the mother of the kidnapped, is probably in the best role (so far) of her career.
In the beginning, we see a woman proud and independent, reduced to begging the millions of the tycoon who enjoys seeing her suffer, refusing.
Perhaps a little more stereotyped the role of the secret agent, however, played more than decently by Mark Wahlberg.
The actor, as usual, is the tough guy who doesn’t let anyone put him down; however, his confrontations with the old rich guy are always pleasant.
Indeed, when he refuses to step aside and leave the woman alone, even the older man understands that maybe you can’t buy everything with money.
Directing is Ridley Scott, unquestionable in the reconstruction of the period and the choice of times for thrillers and adventure.
In short, an actual art film that takes place almost entirely in Italy, for once away from the simple dreamland to spend vacations.
3- Man On Fire (2004)
For the last movie, we stay in the family moving from Ridley Scott to his brother Tony, always obviously in the theme of kidnapping.
This time we are in Mexico, where a wealthy married couple hires a former CIA agent as a bodyguard for their little girl.
Lately, there have indeed been numerous kidnappings of wealthy families in the area, and they want to take precautions.
The man is very taciturn and lonely, obviously suffering from a painful past that he drowns in alcohol every night.
Initially, the girl cannot establish a relationship with him, closing down to all her attempts to make friends.
Slowly, however, her friendliness and intelligence break through his armor, becoming fond of each other and inseparable.
But one fine day, an armed commando attacks their car, kidnapping the little girl and shooting the former special agent.
While he is in the hospital, critically injured, the family and the police negotiate the child’s release with the kidnappers.
Unfortunately, some corrupt agents attempt to steal the money, scuttling any possible dealings.
The ex-agent then exits the hospital just when news spreads that the criminals have killed the girl.
Furious at the fate of his new little friend, he resorts to all his contacts to avenge her death.
He contacts a journalist and a clean-cut cop to unmask them while finding the weapons to kill them himself.
However, in trying to uncover the culprits, the truth will come out along with the blood of his enemies.
Horrified, the man will discover that the rotten smell of money reaches much higher than he could have imagined.
Revenge in cinema always sells
With all due respect to the late Tony Scott, he was unfortunately never a director on the level of his brother Ridley.
Nonetheless, I was not fond of many of his films very much were great blockbusters, so he should be credited with an excellent career.
But, among the various Top Gun and Days of Thunder, he would come up with a few gems, like True Romance or The Hunger.
Man on fire is halfway between, remaining a good story between various films about the kidnapping.
Indeed, the first half is just perfect, building a series of excellent characters in the context of a believable and fascinating world.
The action turn in the second half is bland, falling into the classic canons of the American avenger in a foreign land.
However, even this part remains enjoyable and has its good moments while not being the best this movie offers.
We have an excellent performance of Denzel Washington, especially in his relationship with the little girl.
Their friendship grows tender and funny, with two characters learning to know and respect each other believably and excitingly.
Dakota Fanning is an adorable child, funny and annoying in her insistence, and sad and lonely in her intimacy.
Helping her is Radha Mitchell, a sexy, blonde American mom who lives far away from her country for her family.
The supporting cast is outstanding, including Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke, and the excellent Giancarlo Giannini.
High-caliber actors that give an additional international scope to the story, elevating the depth of otherwise less exciting characters.
In short, it is an excellent product for a movie about South American kidnappings that had great success in cinemas around the world.
A film is sometimes excellent and sometimes average, but still undoubtedly enjoyable to see for everyone at least once.