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The Best Hijacking Thrillers You Can Watch On Netflix Right Now

If thriller movies have taught us anything, it's that there's nothing more universally terrifying than suddenly finding yourself a hostage after you were just trying to commute to work or run a mundane errand.

That's why hijackings are so often the subject of the thriller genre. You don't have to have been in a hostage situation to know that it would be terrifying to be suddenly stuck in your airplane seat or locked in the vault at your local bank. Whether it's by international terrorists, creepy monsters, or homicidal tech wizards, there's no shortage of films whose premise relies on the concept of a hijacking.

Fortunately for fans of the genre, Netflix provides a bevy of exciting, nail-biting thrillers to help you plan for the worst-case scenario the next time you find yourself traveling. And to help dedicated bingers with their next adrenaline-soaked movie marathon, here's a rundown of the best hijacking thrillers currently available on Netflix.

United 93 tells the tragic story of a real-life hijacking

Directed by Paul Greengrass, United 93 is an incredibly heavy hijacking film. With almost documentary-like realism, it tells the story of 9/11, when terrorists took over several planes and flew them into iconic American buildings, claiming thousands of lives. But while it does look at the events of the entire day, the movie specifically focuses on one particular flight, the titular United Airlines Flight 93. After learning about the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the passengers aboard the flight decided to fight back against the four terrorists who killed the pilots and were flying the plane toward their intended target. 

Being that it's based on the final moments of innocent lives, United 93 can be a tough film to watch. One especially heartbreaking scene comes when the passengers say their final, tearful goodbyes to their loved ones as they hatch their counter-attack. However, for those who feel the historical context is worthwhile, they'll be met with a stunning and gripping film that shows the desperation and bravery that took place that day.

Granted, the film does take some creative liberties with some aspects that are hotly debated, all based on the cockpit recordings of the real event. However, by and large, if you tune into United 93, you'll be getting the most accurate depiction of that harrowing day that's available right now.

Snowpiercer is a sci-fi thriller where the hijackers are the heroes

One of Bong Joon-ho's best movies, Snowpiercer breaks the mold by forcing the audience to actually sympathize with the hijackers. This sci-fi/fantasy takes place in the year 2031 after a failed attempt to stop global climate change has caused a new ice age. What's left of humanity survives by circumnavigating the Earth on a large train called the Snowpiercer. However, class systems quickly set in, with the people in the back of the train starving and living in what are essentially slums while the front-of-the-train people live in total opulence.

One day, a man named Curtis (Chris Evans) leads a revolt from the back of the train to try and secure more for his people by fighting his way to the front. With the progression of each passing car, they learn just how much has been kept from them all these years, as well as the ghastly human cost that goes into running humanity's only source of salvation.

The film is a stunning visual circus that only Bong Joon-ho can deliver. In addition to a story that will leave the viewer with a lot to think about, it offers some of the most gritty and impressive fight scenes in recent memory. What starts out as a battle between lowly guards and revolutionaries armed with pipes turns into a man-to-man knuckledragger as the technology of weaponry advances with each progression into a new, richer car.

Into the Night is a Netflix miniseries about a hijacking ... and the apocalypse

The hijacking genre is typically dominated by films. After all, for better or worse, stories of people taking over a plane or ship don't tend to last very long. However, Netflix's original series Into the Night manages to get six episodes out of a hijacking story.

The series opens with a lone man taking control of a red-eye flight full of passengers flying out of Brussels. However, the hijacker has good intentions. He knows there's a cataclysmic event going down, where sunlight is destroying and killing all living organisms. So he hijacks the plane in order to demand an early takeoff, ensuring that he and the rest of the passengers can continue moving west to avoid the sunlight. What transpires over the next six episodes is a story of desperation, survival, and distrust that sees a diverse collection of airplane passengers becoming some of the last living people on Earth ... and they're determined to keep it that way.

What begins as a standard thriller in which the worst thing imaginable happens aboard an otherwise regular flight quickly finds a way to mine drama from a its sci-fi conflict. So, if you find yourself bored of the same old hijacking stories or simply want to dive into something much longer than your standard movie, Into the Night might be the perfect new binge for you.

Olympus Has Fallen puts hijackers in the White House

Olympus Has Fallen proves that not all hijacking stories have to do with planes and trains. In this 2013 thriller, the U.S. president (Aaron Eckhart) invites the South Korean prime minister to Washington, D.C. for a meeting, but that draws the attention of a North Korean terrorist group that launches an air and ground assault in an effort to take control of the White House.

Of course, the terrorists weren't counting on former U.S. Army Ranger Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Our hero was part of the initial team trying to defend the White House before he found himself cutoff from his group, and now, he's in a Die Hard situation, alone inside with a bunch of terrorists. Making things even more complicated, he has a personal history with the president, having failed to save the first lady a year prior. Although their relationship is strained, what better than a flurry of butt-kicking feats to take back the most secure building in the country and patch things up between old friends?

Those who tune in to the movie can expect some grade-A action sequences. For example, the initial attack on D.C. offers some of the most intense and nail-biting drama imaginable. While movies that showcase people attacking America aren't exactly in short supply, it's rare that such a brazen, full-frontal assault takes place as the bad guys hijack some of America's military resources in an effort to clear the way for an invasion of South Korea from North Korea. Of course, even though there's only one man standing in their way, it turns out he's the right man for the job.

Train to Busan is one of the best undead thrillers on Netflix

Hijackings don't always have to be done by terrorists or criminals. Sometimes, you can be hijacked by a good old-fashioned monster like a zombie. And when it comes to zombies and hijackings, there's simply no beating the 2016 movie Train to Busan.

When a workaholic fund manager gets pressure from his ex-wife to bring their daughter home to Busan for her birthday, he must accompany her on a train ride that turns out to be the worst one of their lives. As the train leaves the station, it becomes clear that the world is being gripped by a zombie outbreak that causes the people of South Korea to change into violent monsters. Unfortunately for the packed train passengers, a single infected person makes their way on board, and the ratio of living to dead passengers shifts in a big hurry. 

The movie is visually stunning for such a claustrophobic setting. And in terms of a hijacking movie, it gets top marks as the passengers have to battle to keep control of the train against an overwhelming enemy. As for its credentials as a zombie movie, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright gave it high praise, writing, "I'd ... be remiss not to mention Yeon Sang-ho's Train to Busan, my favorite zombie film of the 21st century and just a 24-carat audience movie to see with a large crowd." 

If subtitles aren't an issue for you, Train to Busan is one of the best zombie flicks ever made, and it puts most other hijacking films to shame.

The Cloverfield Paradox is about the ultimate skyjacking

While hijacking something like a plane or a moving train may seem like a high-stakes venture, it pales in comparison to the incredibly trippy hijacking that takes place in The Cloverfield Paradox. The movie focuses on a group of people in orbit around Earth, trying to fire up a particle accelerator in order to solve the planet's energy crisis. However, they quickly learn that their machine has the power to shift their existence into an alternate reality, causing a paradox that will merge some of them with versions of themselves from a parallel universe.

When the titular "Cloverfield Paradox" happens, it becomes clear that the collection of well-intentioned scientists may have ulterior motives now that they're from a different timeline. With the help of a 3D-printed weapon, one passenger even reveals himself to be a spy hell-bent on stopping the mission's success at all costs. Where once the crew saw a trusted group of friends, their mission has now been hijacked by versions of themselves that they're completely unaware of, with motivations that are starkly different from what they set out with. 

As if their problems weren't bad enough, the paradox manages to open a world of destruction on Earth, brought on by none other than the monsters that made the semi-related 2008 movie Cloverfield such a nightmare. With the very fate of humanity hanging in the balance, the crew must look within themselves to determine who's real and if they still have humanity's best intentions in mind.

Lockout is a Netflix thriller set in an outer space prison

Directed by Luc Besson, Lockout is a 2012 sci-fi thriller that's heavy on the action, and it'll keep viewers on the edge of their seat for every fast-paced and bone-breaking sequence.

The film takes place in a prison with security that's so top-notch that the facility itself is actually orbiting in space. When a CIA operative is accused of a political assassination, he's sent there right around the time that the president's daughter arrives to interrogate an ultra-lethal criminal. Naturally, the interview goes poorly, and the criminal mastermind manages to free everyone, thus turning control of the orbiting facility over to the rioting prisoners.

With the first daughter stuck inside with a bunch of murderers and rapists, the CIA operative, played by Guy Pearce, must decide if he wants to help the very people that turned their backs on him and got him locked up in the first place. What ensues is a sci-fi beatdown for the ages as the agent has to move through various factions in the prison and hatch a daring rescue mission. However, it quickly becomes clear that the prison has a lot more going on than just poor living conditions for its prisoners. As they battle their way to freedom, the agent and first daughter quickly discover that they're at the heart of a massive conspiracy, and despite being in jail, they now have the crucial keys to unravel this insidious plot.

6 Days is the true story of a tense standoff

Similar to United 93, 6 Days might hit close to home for some people, especially those who were alive during the 1980s. After all, it's based on the real-life siege of an Iranian Embassy in South Kensington, London.

The movie sees a group of unlikely heroes, including an SAS member, a BBC reporter, and a police inspector tasked with handling an unprecedented crisis after Iranian Arabic terrorists seize control of an embassy and take 26 hostages. They demand that, in exchange for no bloodshed, 91 Arab prisoners in Iran be freed by noon the next day. While the movie isn't without its action, a lot of the tense drama is mined from the ongoing hostage negotiation process. Victories in this movie don't necessarily come in the form of a punch to a bad guy's face as much as they do getting them to agree to extend the deadline before a hostage's execution takes place.

However, that doesn't mean viewers will be in for a snooze fest. Like the real-life event, things culminate in a violent clash between the military and the terrorists, which is made all the more intense thanks to the days of harrowing negotiations and behind-the-scenes chess moves from the unlikely team.

Inside Man is a thrilling chess match between detective and thief

What happens when the people who take you hostage are able to blend in with your fellow hostages? Such is the plot of the 2006 thriller Inside Man.

This Spike Lee film opens with a character named Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) telling the viewer that he recently executed the perfect bank robbery. The rest of the movie is spent showing off just how masterfully planned the heist was. Russell and his team enter the bank dressed as painters and quickly demand that everyone inside surrender their cell phones and don similar garb. The hostages are then taken to several different rooms where the actual robbers routinely pose as victims in order to cause confusion about who the enemy actually is.

Meanwhile, Russell is in a chess game with hostage negotiator Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington). The duo are going back and forth as the expert detective does his best to figure out whether or not Russell is a killer. However, the criminal mastermind is playing a much bigger game than anyone realizes.

The film is a tight thriller that flips seamlessly between what's going on inside the bank and what's happening outside between the police and the SWAT team that's eager to bust in and solve the hostage crisis. However, despite showing off what's happening with both sides of the conflict, it manages to keep the audience guessing as to Russell's master plan until the very end.

Air Force One is the ultimate hijacking movie

One of the all-time great thrillers, Air Force One finds Harrison Ford as an American president in a life-threatening situation when baddies — led by a very cranky character played by Gary Oldman — hijack the most secure plane in the world.

After a combined U.S. and Russian operation captures the dictator of Kazakhstan, U.S. President James Marshall declares that the United States will no longer stand idly by while terrorists run amuck. His big words are put into action when terrorists loyal to the dictator board the plane disguised as journalists before breaking into a weapons reserve and taking control by force. However, these guys are messing with the wrong president. Marshall is a Vietnam veteran and isn't about to let the terrorists use the first lady and his daughter as hostages. Instead of escaping, he stays on board and starts systematically taking the plane back single-handedly.

The action never stops but remains grounded at all times. Moments of Ford fist-fighting terrorists are cut between realistic conversations with what's left of his cabinet on the ground, as they try to determine the constitutionality of POTUS' badassery. Meanwhile, Oldman's character proves he's not playing around as he executes senior cabinet members until his demands are met. So if you're looking for something that's going to provide the perfect blend of action and thrills, Air Force One should tick all of your boxes.