I don’t know what it is, but I come across many movies that use this formula. Usually it’s found in thrillers, mysteries, crime related stories, but it can extend into other genres. I would like to point out what is wrong with this overused situation:
The hero is most likely a male who has either a girl friend, a wife with or without children. They have a scene where you see the loving relationship and it hooks you into carrying about these people. Then the bad guys go after the helpless people in the hero’s life by either kidnapping them and/or eventually killing them. For me, the disliking comes in when it’s drawn out to extremes. The movie continually goes back and forth between the struggling hero and the suffering of his loved ones. I find it especially disturbing when the loved ones are tortured in some disturbing way. Suspense of this kind usually turns into anxiety, which is not all that enjoyable.
One big reason I don’t like this is because I’ve seen it so many times it’s easily predictable every step of the way. You can expect everything to go wrong for the hero and they will make it so nothing goes right (no matter how stupid it is) until the very end, but, of course, that doesn’t mean all the loved ones will survive. And I really hate it if they kill off any of the loved ones after struggling through an entire movie trying to save them.
Another reason is that they always make the loved captives so helpless. They might make a weak attempt to escape, but you know that just isn’t going to happen. It will only lead to more torture.
But the worst thing about this is the entire movie involves the rescue, and that’s why it makes for too simple of a plot.
However, this all could be just me, of course, as I tend to have problems with movies that don’t have enough breaks in the tension. Like The Dark Knight and Transformers 2. The Dark Knight was highly rated.
PS: Yes, I’m trying out a new cover and I had to upload it in about five different places.