In the thrilling true-life drama Deepwater Horizon, Mark Wahlberg plays an oil rig worker who struggles heroically to prevent the world's biggest man-made environmental catastrophe. His character is also a devoted family man, whose lovely landlocked wife (Kate Hudson) faces a tense wait to find out whether he's survived. This got us thinking about all those other movie fathers played by A-list stars who put their families through the emotional wringer or place them in peril as a result of their own actions. These guys might be heroes, but would you really want to be at the mercy of murderous bad guys too, or stuck at home hoping against hope that your dad or husband will survive against often impossible odds?
Harrison Ford in Air Force One
When dastardly armed Russian terrorists lead by evil Gary Oldman sneak aboard the US President's private jet, Air Force One, and capture his wife and daughter, it looks as though the prezz's number is up. But that would be to reckon without an action man 'nam veteran president in the determined form of Harrison Ford. Having pretended to flee in an escape pod, the heroic Leader of the Free World secretly remains on board and opens up an enormous party pack of whupass.
Death rating: 10/10. Despite some twists and turns along the way, President Ford personally dispatches the majority of the terrorists and delivers the killer blow to nasty Mr. Oldman.
Distress rating: 10/10. You're held captive at 36,000 feet by an evildoer who's threatening to bump off a hostage every half hour unless his demands are met. Does it get any scarier than that?
Tom Hanks in Apollo 13
The American public has more or less lost interest in the space race when Apollo 13 blasts off under the command of Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) in 1970. Even Lovell's rebellious teenage daughter seems to have her mind on other things. But then something goes horribly wrong during a routine procedure and the eyes of the world are on the three-strong crew as an ingenious plan is hatched to bring them home safely.
Death rating: 0/10. Spoiler alert: nobody dies, though it gets very close indeed.
Distress rating: 9/10. The helpless Lovell family can only watch, wait and hope as Mission Control and the brave astronauts improvise a nail-biting untested rescue mission with only the slimmest chance of success.
Liam Neeson in the Taken series
Liam Neeson's former CIA operative Bryan Mills famously boasts a "very particular set of skills". But you really wouldn't want to be his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) or teenage daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Things don't start out too badly in the first Taken movie, in which our hero uses those skills to save Kim from being sold into sexual slavery. But by Taken 2, the vengeance-crazed bad guys are targeting his family for kidnap. And in the third film, Lenore is murdered, while Kim finds herself in peril again.
Death rating: 11/10. Frankly, we lost count of how many bad guys Mr. Neeson dispatched in these movies, such was his determination to protect his family. And poor old Lenore is a rare example of an action man's spouse who gets done in herself.
Distress rating: 9/10. Lenore gets the worst of it, having her throat cut and being dangled upside down in Taken 2. But after her initial trauma, Kim toughens up and proves to be quite a resourceful ally.
Bruce Willis in the Die Hard series
As he ruefully notes in Die Hard 2, the same s**t has a habit of happening to cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) over and over again. And, needless to say, his unfortunate family tend to get dragged into it. In the first film, he's hoping to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly. Naturally, she gets taken hostage when nasty Alan Rickman stages a heist in an LA skyscraper. By the time of Die Hard 4.0 McClane and Holly are divorced and their daughter Lucy is a teenager. Needless to say, it's her turn to get kidnapped. Son Jack fares a little better in A Good Day to Die Hard, but that's only because he's joined the family bad guy battling business by becoming a CIA agent.
Death rating: 8/10. McClane works his way through hordes of wrong 'uns, including leading antagonists played by the late Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons and Timothy Olyphant.
Distress rating: 8/10. Having been taken hostage in Die Hard, poor Holly finds herself circling above Washington DC in a passenger plane that's rapidly running out of fuel in Die Hard 2. Little wonder we never see the poor woman again and subsequently learn that the couple have divorced. Handily, Lucy makes herself available to be menaced by a cyber-terrorist in part four.
Mark Wahlberg in The Perfect Storm
That's right: Deepwater Horizon isn't the first true-life action movie in which Mark Wahlberg finds himself in deadly peril while his partner worries herself sick back home. In The Perfect Storm, he plays Bobby Shatford - a crew member aboard doomed fishing boat Andrea Gail as it sets off for a final late season expedition off the coast of Newfoundland. What awaits them is the most ferocious storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic
Death rating: 10/10. There are no survivors.
Distress rating: 10/10. Like many back on shore, Bobby's girlfriend Chris Cotter (Diane Lane) has a bad feeling about the trip and doesn't want him to go, creating tension between the couple and a terrible sense of foreboding that haunts the entire film.
Angelina Jolie in Salt
Yes, we're keenly aware that this all gets a bit sexist, with macho chaps in charge and women frequently reduced to helpless observers or blubbing victims. But there's one film with an A-list star that turns convention on its head. As stitched-up CIA agent on the run Evelyn Salt, Angelina Jolie gets to do all the action stuff that's normally the preserve of male leads. Okay, so Tom Cruise was originally to have played the lead, but the gender inversion proves a refreshing change.
Death rating: 9/10. Not only does Angelina waste baddies with the best of them, but to preserve her cover she also has to look on unflinchingly while her husband is murdered in cold blood.
Distress rating: 9/10. Poor old Mike Krause, Evelyn's hubby, is a mild-mannered arachnologist who doesn't even know that she works for the CIA until she's busted in North Korea. Then an evil Russisan villain kidnaps the poor fella and has him killed in front of her. Bet he wished he'd stayed with his spiders instead.
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