Thursday Movie Picks: Hostages

A weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves

When it comes to the hostage genre, I'm the first whose mind goes to action flicks because, let's be honest, nothing says "hostage movie" like an action movie. But there's so much more to the genre and that's the way I decided to go with two of my picks.

Argo (2012)

Iran, 1979. The American embassy was invaded by Iranian revolutionaries and several Americans were taken hostage. Six managed to escape and, in order to get them out of the country, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) acts under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a sci-fi film. I've seen this only once, shortly after it won the Best Picture Oscar, and I really enjoyed it as it was very gripping and tense. Especially to my ignorant old self who didn't know history.

John Q (2002)

John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) takes a hospital emergency room hostage when his insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant. Watched ages ago when my obsession with Denzel began, this film kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire time. I'm pretty sure I even cried at some point. And Denzel's performance was fantastic. 

Speed (1994)

A retired bomb squad member, Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), arms a bus with a bomb that will explode if it drops below 50 miles per hour. It's up to a young police officer (Keanu Reeves), with the help of one of the passengers (Sandra Bullock), to save the people on the bus. I watched this for Sandra Bullock and I ended up falling in love, all over again, with Keanu Reeves. As for the movie, it's such a thrilling action flick. 

What genre do you usually associate with hostage movies? And which movies would you pick?


  1. We match on Argo! I haven't seen John Q, though I need to for Denzel. Speed I was never a huge fan of but I was really young when I saw it.

    1. I hope you get to see John Q as I really liked it and Denzel was amazing in it.

  2. Great list! I remembered watching John Q in high school and I was so into that film! I need to rewatch these films again!

    Here’s my Thursday Movie Picks!

    Ronyell @ The Surreal Movies and TV Blog

  3. I'd put off John Q for years because I'm not the biggest Denzel Washington fan, he usually strikes me as humorless, but lately I've softened of late. I'm still not a devout fan but having seen more of his films recently he's not as one note as I had thought. Anyway this film was okay though some of the situations it asked the audience to accept often stretched credibility.

    I LOVE Speed!! Again it presents situations that are outlandish and the audience couldn't be faulted if they scoffed at their preposterousness but its so tightly put together, Keanu is so committed, Sandra so winsome and winning and Dennis Hopper so entertainingly over the top you ride right over the numerous plot holes along with the rest of the audience.

    We match on Argo!! A tense and terrific film.

    I associate hostage films more with the thriller genre than the action one though those two often overlap. They are certainly plentiful and the hostage idea has been around since those silent film serials of Pearl White and Ruth Roland so I chose three that are from decades far apart.

    Hostages (1943)-A large group of Czechoslovakians are held hostages by the Gestapo until the supposed killer of a Nazi officer-actually a suicide-is turned in. Among the group is the leader of the resistance movement (William Bendix), working undercover as an apparently ignorant washroom attendant in the nightclub where the victim was last seen alive. Meanwhile a group of resistance fighters, led by Maria (Katina Paxinou), try to contact Bendix to establish the time to blow up a German ammunition supply and devise a plan to rescue the prisoners. This was double Oscar winner Luise Rainer’s last film for 54 years.

    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)-Four men Misters Blue, Green, Grey and Brown board a New York subway train and take the 18 passengers hostage demanding one million dollars in an hour’s time or they will start killing the hostages, one a minute until their demands are met. Under the direction of laconic but sharp transit cop Zach Garber (Walter Matthau) the city tries to meet the deadline and negotiate the lives of the hostages. Slam bang adventure with a cast full of familiar faces really captures the pulsing feel of New York City in the 70’s.

    Argo (2012)-1979 Tehran, militants storm the U.S. embassy taking 66 American hostages. During the siege six manage to slip away and find refuge with the Canadian ambassador. Knowing that it's just a matter of time before the refugees are found and likely executed, the U.S. government calls on extractor Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to rescue them. Mendez's plan is to pose as a Hollywood producer scouting locations in Iran and train the refugees to act as his "film" crew. Affleck does well in blending all the intricacies of the plot into a cohesive taut whole.

    1. I haven't seen John Q. in such a long time but I'm sure you're right about it's credibility. I remember that when the film ended I was like, was this based on a true story? Because it's not that believable.

  4. Nice choices. Good to see Argo there and a big thumbs up for Speed. I remember seeing it in the theater and being thoroughly surprised by it.

  5. I've only seen Speed, it is a good fast paced action movie.