This weekend Taylor Lautner—best known as the shirt-challenged werewolf from The Twilight Saga—will attempt to convince the world he is more than a set of sick abs in Abduction. Lautner plays Nathan Price, a teen who goes on the run when he discovers a picture of himself as a little boy on a missing persons website and he realizes that the people that he calls his parents must have abducted him.
Hollywood has had a long love affair with kidnapping stories, and we're not even talking about the alien abduction ones, which we'll examine some other weekend. No, we're talking about old-fashioned human-takes-human pictures in which someone is snatched for usually dubious reasons. Most of them are available on disc, like 1965's The Collector in which Terence Stamp plays a butterfly collector who steps up his game by collecting a 20-year-old art student and keeping her prisoner in his cellar. The masked Casanova from 1997's Kiss the Girls kidnaps several young women and holds them prisoner in his lair until Ashley Judd escapes and helps Detective Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) locate the madman. Freeman returns as Cross in Along Came the Spider to help a secret service agent (Monica Potter) find a kidnapped senator's daughter.
Another excellent motivation to kidnap someone is good germ-carrying currency or valuable information. Kevin Bacon snags the daughter (Dakota Fanning) of Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend in Trapped because Bacon is in the business of abducting rich people's children for ransom. Mel Gibson plays a multi-millionaire airline owner whose son is abducted for a ransom of $2 million in—what else?—Ransom. The prominent child psychiatrist played by Michael Douglas in Don't Say a Word is forced to try to extract a six-digit number from a disturbed girl's memory in order to get his kidnapped daughter back. Kim Basinger plays what she does best—a victimized woman being pushed around—in 2004's Cellular in which both her and her son are kidnapped independently of each other in an attempt to identify a secret location used by Basinger's husband. Also, who can forget Arnold Schwarzenegger as retired Special Forces operative John Matrix who must muscle his way back to rescue his kidnapped daughter (Alyssa Milano) in Commando?
Sex is a motivation for a lot of human behavior, including kidnapping. In Ron Howard's Western thriller The Missing set in the late 19th century, Cate Blanchett plays a woman whose eldest daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) is to be sold into prostitution south of the border. In both the original and remake of The Last House on the Left, teen girls are kidnapped and raped only to escape and exact revenge on their attackers. In the unintentionally hilarious Hide and Seek (sometimes known as Cord), Jennifer Tilly and Vincent Gallo kidnap a very pregnant Daryl Hannah and keep her chained to a bed in the basement until she pops out a baby for them. There is nothing to laugh about in the intense 2008 thriller Taken in which Liam Neeson plays a retired CIA officer whose 17-year-old daughter is kidnapped by Albanian sex traders while traveling in Paris.
Abduction is rarely a pleasant affair—unless you are like Alicia Silverstone and fall in love with your kidnapper played by Benicio Del Toro in Excess Baggage—but sometimes the motivations of the kidnapper are the stuff of nightmares. Buffalo Bill—the serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs—kidnaps young Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith), keeps her in a well, and forces her to apply lotion to her skin constantly so he can cut it off to make a flesh suit. In The Cell, child psychologist Jennifer Lopez (insert laughter here) uses an experimental device to enter the subconscious of a serial killer and discover the location of his last victim—who is still alive—before the woman drowns in a glass enclosure. Of all the abduction stories Hollywood has cooked up, nothing is more terrifying than the Saw series. All seven films feature kidnapped victims who wake up in some kind of bizarre torture chamber and are forced to make a difficult moral decision before the timer runs out and their abductions prove fatal.