Hostage situations are no laughing matter, but sometimes you can’t help but want to fire up Netflix to watch a handful of movies where tensions run high, and lives are at stake. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to unwind by watching a lot of bad guys get blown up in just a nick of time after terrorizing the neighborhood, city, or world. Just because the stakes are high on the screen, doesn’t mean we actually want to get our hands dirty in real life.
In a way, hostage movies are a form of wish fulfillment. We all want to be the guy who takes down the villain and saves the day. Can you blame us?
And that’s the purpose of this list: to let you know about the best movies currently streaming on Netflix that involve some sort of hostage situation that you can witness from the comfort of your living room.
White House Down
It goes without saying that any hostage situation is serious business, but when the president’s safety is compromised, the stakes can’t get any higher.
We’re talking, of course, about White House Down, which is currently streaming on Netflix. This Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx movie is action-packed, and what’s more, it’s funny in that “buddy cop” kind of way even though the very fabric of our national security is about to be torn to shreds.
After signing a controversial peace agreement with the Middle East, Jamie Foxx’s President James Sawyer is in danger after a radical paramilitary team infiltrates the White House and holds a tour group hostage. Luckily for Sawyer, Jone Cale (Channing Tatum) is on tour with his daughter. Not only does Cale have experience as a Capitol policeman, he also has aspirations of one day becoming a secret service agent.
It quickly becomes clear that although the terrorists had a pretty solid plan to take over a now locked down Washington D.C., they’re no match for Cale, who is willing to risk his life for the President of the United States.
Though Chris Hemsworth is a god among men in the Thor movies, he performs quite well in high-stake hostage situations in the mortal realm as well.
2020’s Extraction, which can be streamed on Netflix, is one such hostage movie. In this action-packed thriller, Hemsworth portrays a black-market mercenary named Tyler Rake, who is tasked with rescuing a kidnapped Ovi Mahajan Jr., the son of an infamous and incarcerated Indian drug lord.
During Extraction, we learn about Rake’s troubled past, and why he’s willing to risk his life to extract Ovi from Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he’s being held hostage.
Having abandoned his own son who was battling with lymphoma, Rake feels that freeing Ovi Mahajan Sr.’s son from captivity is an indirect way of redeeming himself in the present day, while still being haunted by his past.
Extraction is lauded for its intense action sequences and was the most-watched original film in Netflix’s history upon its release in 2020.
Though Extraction 2 begins with a retired and recovering Tyler Rake living in a cabin in Austria, he quickly gets called back into action for a new mission.
Having learned that his ex-wife Mia’s sister, Ketevan, and her two children, Sandro and Nina, have been held hostage in a Georgia prison by her drug dealer husband, Davit, Rake quickly gets to work to release them from captivity.
Extraction 2 wastes no time in getting Rake to do what he does best, but with much higher stakes than the Netflix original that preceded it.
Extraction 2 takes us on a wild, no-holds-barred, odyssey of violence, prison riots, armored train infiltration, and more explosions than you could ever count. But the tension doesn’t only come from this Netflix film’s intensity.
Tyler Rake is still fighting his own inner demons and continues his redemption arc by saving Ketevan’s children in a way he couldn’t save his own son.
Christopher Hemsworth truly shows his range in Extraction 2, and through his dark persona, he channels the same kind of energy that Arnold Schwarzenegger had in his prime, but in a way that shows us more depth and humanity than the action stars of a bygone era.
1998’s The Negotiator is a unique kind of hostage movie on this Netflix list because it flips the script in a way that makes us root for the supposed assailant.
When Samuel L. Jackson’s Lieutenant Danny Roman is suspected of multiple crimes (embezzlement and murder) that he didn’t commit, he is forced to resign from his position as a hostage negotiator, and takes on hostages of his own in an attempt to clear his name. Roman takes matters into his own hands by holding up in a high-rise building and making his demands.
One such demand comes in the form of requesting the presence of Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey), another high-ranking hostage negotiator who Roman trusts to help him neutralize the situation.
What sets The Negotiator apart from other hostage movies on this list is its ability to fold in expertly crafted dialogue in between its intense action sequences. Through Sabian’s and Roman’s discussions, they establish trust, and work together to minimize collateral damage.
All while simultaneously trying to expose the corrupt inner workings of the police department that caused Roman to take such desperate measures in the first place.
London Has Fallen
Though Olympus Has Fallen is not currently streaming on Netflix, its sequel, 2016’s London Has Fallen can be streamed right now. Gerard Butler reprises his role as Mike Banning, a Secret Service agent once again tasked with ensuring the safety of Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart).
But this time international cooperation is required to take down a faction of terrorists. After a number of world leaders are killed in a London terrorist attack, Asher is held hostage, and Banning suspects that a mole in the British government is helping orchestrate the attack.
London Has Fallen, much like White House Down, is a race against the clock to rescue the president from certain death. The pacing and mass panic that is portrayed in this film will keep you at the edge of your seat until the final scene fades out, and the credits roll.
But it’s worth noting that if you want to truly enjoy want to enjoy this one, you should start at the beginning, and work your way through the entire Has Fallen film series. These include 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, and 2019’s Angel Has Fallen.