Could you even imagine getting a call or an email from a stranger who tells you they’re holding a loved one captive until you comply with their demands? It’s a nightmare scenario — and something that makes me glad I’m not rich. But ransom ultimatums do make for great movies, and here are 3 of the most intense ones:


All the Money in the World – Based on the true story of billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s response to his grandson’s kidnapping, this movie initially garnered a lot of buzz when Kevin Spacey’s already-finalized performance as Getty was scrapped after sexual harassment claims were filed against him. Director Ridley Scott made the unprecedented decision to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes with Christopher Plummer instead. The film again made headlines after it was revealed how much more star Mark Wahlberg made during those reshoots as compared to co-star Michelle Williams. (Wahlberg later donated his reshoot earnings to the Time’s Up movement.)

But don’t let all of the behind-the-scenes drama distract you from the fact that this is a really great edge-of-your-seat thriller about a mother (Williams) desperately trying to get her son back alive after her father (Plummer) decides he will not cooperate with the kidnapper’s demands for $17 million and instead asks a former CIA operative (Wahlberg) to attempt to secure the teenage boy. Gee, thanks, grandpa!


The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 – This heart-pounding thriller (and remake) from the late director Tony Scott (the aforementioned Ridley’s brother) stars John Travolta as Ryder, a hijacker who demands $10 million from the state of New York within an hour or he will start killing passengers on a subway train he has disconnected and gained control of. Denzel Washington plays the subway dispatcher-turned-negotiator who develops a rapport with Ryder and ultimately agrees to deliver the ransom money in person. Tape up your fingernails while watching this one or else you’ll bite them off!


Ransom – This 1996 film from director Ron Howard stars Mel Gibson as a multimillionaire who’s like “NOPE” to the FBI and decides to take matters involving his young son’s kidnapping into his own hands, going on TV to announce a $2 million “bounty” on the kidnappers’ heads that he will drop if his son is returned alive. Rene Russo stars as his wife, with Delroy Lindo and Gary Sinise as agents involved in the case. It’s been two full decades since I’ve seen this movie and I STILL remember how freaked out I was while watching it. Now that’s intense!