Ransom Movie Review

Ransom is a smarter than your average thriller about a hostage situation. It contains intelligent characters who constantly try to outwit each other. The film doesn't take a lot of risks, but it packs surprise after surprise, and the strong central character and his performance keeps the movie above water... even if it could have been better.

The ever-popular Mel Gibson stars as a wealthy airline owner named Tom Mullen, who lives with his wife, Kate (Rene Russo), and son, Sean (Brawly Nolte), in Central Park. Kate and Tom take Sean to a science fair where several money hungry thieves kidnap him. The villains are not terrorists, not psychopaths, not serial killers, but rather three-dimensional, ordinary people. The movie gives the bad guys a lot of color and screen time; and we eventually care about their fate as well as the fate of the Mullen family.

The movie doesn't attempt to keep the identity of the kidnapper a secret. He's Jimmy, a New York City cop (they always work for the government) played by Gary Sinise. Jimmy stages his crew at a local shack where they blindfold Sean and tie him to a bed. His crew consists of his girlfriend, Maris (Lili Taylor), who once worked for Tom, a computer hacker (Evan Handler), and two lowlife bothers (Liev Schreiber and Donnie Wahlberg), who have various feelings about their role in the kidnapping.

The FBI becomes involved with the case, of course. An expert in kidnapping (Delroy Lindo) tells Tom to pay the ransom of two million bucks -- a small sum of money compared to Tom's fortune. Tom becomes convinced that the kidnappers will kill his child anyway. He changes the ransom money into a reward for the person who turns the enemy into the police.

The star-studded cast members provide their characters with stellar performances. Gibson brings the tension of the situation to life. The movie takes advantage of Russo, whose part as the wife is often underused in similar thrillers. Gary Sinise paints a vivid, taut portrait of the organized mastermind, and Lili Taylor contributes an emotional touch to the action-packed story.

Screenwriters Richard Price and Alexander Ignon create the situation with a strong understanding of their story. This movie offers a good twist on the genre. The tension grows, the stakes continually increase, the suspense rises. It ends like a trooper, a little quick, but the conclusion gets the job done.

A handful of deleted scenes and commentary by Ron Howard can be found on the new special edition DVD along with a behind the scenes featurette.

The wait is on.

Comments

Ransom Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1996

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