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Movie Review

Ransom

Reviewed by: Dale Mason
STAFF WRITER

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Drama
Length:
121 min.
Year of Release:
1996
R

Starring: Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise, Delroy Lindo / Director: Ron Howard

What if you were rich? What if you were famous? What if your child, your only child, was kidnapped?!

This superbly directed film is more than the average sit-back-and-relax type of entertainment. It reaches deep into the emotions of a family in crisis and sweeps its viewers into a suspense-filled, action packed journey. It concludes in a way that all who cherish justice demand.

Tom Mullen is a handsome CEO who has built one of the largest airlines in America. Highly regarded for his business skill and negotiating expertise, Tom (Mel Gibson) is married to a lovely, supportive wife (Rene Russo). They have one son.

Together they experience the extreme anguish of waiting and hoping that their son is still alive. The kidnappers have made their demands clear, and the result of noncompliance emphatic.

Without his authorization, Tom is followed by the FBI to the drop point of his son’s two million dollar ransom. However, the nighttime drop is foiled when helicopters filled with sharpshooters explode into the cold black silence and kill one of the kidnapper’s accomplices. Now convinced that the heartless criminals will never release his son alive, Tom makes a surprising, impassioned television announcement, turning the ransom money into a bounty on the head of the crime’s mastermind. “Two million dollars for the first person to turn in the leader, dead or alive.”

This is the first of two major, unexpected twists in this mesmerizing fantasy.

While “Ransom” is free of any sex or nudity (except for one scene of a man’s bare rear), it is replete with crude speech and obscenities, especially the “F” word, which is spewed at least 50 times.

As with his previous blockbuster (“Apollo 13”), director Ron Howard has delivered a product that exhibits many of the best aspects of the film making craft. But I think I speak for millions when I say that I wish that Mr. Howard would have toned the language and graphic violence down to a “PG-13” level. Doing so would not have negatively impacted the force of the story (the drama itself is extremely compelling), but would have left fewer images of exploding chests, etc., for viewers to be callused by.

Viewer Comments
“Ransom” was the best film of 1996. Even though it wouldn’t have stood a chance in the “Year of the Independents,” Ron Howard’s gripping thriller was one of the most underrated films of the year and I was disappointed that it didn’t even get a Best Actor nomination for Mel, who gave what is one of his best performances ever and deserved to finally take home an Oscar for his acting ability. The score, cinematography, and film editing were all deserving as well, and yet again, Ron Howard was robbed. Rene Russo and Gary Sinise were also superb.
—Brian Skutle, age 20
This movie is nothing more than a lesson in moral relativism… wanting us to cheer on a man whose son has been kidnapped by a corrupt police official who thinks he should pay the consequence for his corruption. There is no good ending to a movie like this and a sad commentary that this is about the best Hollywood can put out and call “moral”.
—Nancy Scofield, age 41
I thought “Ransom” was a great movie. It was however violent. I think “mother heart's” will have a hard time with it. The thing I liked most about the message is that most films tend to teach the unbalanced how to do some crime better. But this one really gave the message that crime does not pay. I think it would definitely discourage this type of crime and for that I applaud it.
—Libby, age 35
The movie was fabulous! The chemistry between Rene and Mel is still there. I would pay the money to see it again in. It is nice to finally see “parents” taking a stand against things like kidnapping and doing what they feel is right.
—Tony, age 22
This movie was a great action packed film that was obviously worth the $7.50.
—Jim, age 14
I enjoyed the movie but was completely put off by the microphone visible in many shots inside the house. Not only was this very unprofessional, it took away the realism of the movie. I would have expected better film quality from Ron Howard. And I wasn’t the only one that noticed the overhead mic, the whole cinema I was in noticed it too!
—Sarah, age 18
I liked the movie a lot, and might understand why Sarah saw the boom mike. I run a theater, and if the film is a little off in the projector, things like that are visible. We had it happen when we screened Clueless last year. It’s not Howard’s fault, it’s the theater.
—Michael-Scott, age 21
“Ranson” ranks number one on my list of movies. It’s a movie based on reality; such as, violence, bad language, and so on.
—Perry Sanfiorenzo, age 19
No big surprises here! You want violence, verbal abuse (profanity), well this film has plenty of it. Yes, this was a serious movie that took an interesting position on the parents fighting back for a change but hey, it’s a movie, not reality. Not much in Hollywood seems to change, we are still bombarded with violence and profanity at every turn especially in this Ron Howard movie. Bring back Opey.
—Penney, age 24
I thought it portrayed the secular world to a tee. When something went wrong, it was “God Damn!” and when they needed something to happen, it was “O God Help Us!?” This is very typical in today’s society to ask for prayer from the Great Vending Machine in heaven.
—John Martinez, age 24
O.K. people… so what does the Bible say in Philippians 4:8? What does this tell us about the movie industry?
—Emerson, age 20
Howard’s latest once again reunites Mel Gibson and Rene Russo in a thriller that is sure to exasperate any parent. The violence is predictable and the language, abusive. However, the realities of separation and helplessness are made tangible throughout the movie. On the production downside, much of the editing left noticeable gaps in character development i.e. Gibson’s Financial Advisor, the protagonist’s (Sinese) decline from moral order, and the FBI lead’s relation to other kidnappings seemed weak. Additionally, much could have been done to further develop the marital tension. Overall, I left the movie wanting to see the child in therapy, more than I left feeling I was entertained.
—Matthew D. Brwon, age 34
“Ransom” is a good movie that could have been even better if it weren’t for all the cursing and violence. It shows that Ron Howard is just another secular Hollywood director who doesn’t have the guts to make a clean movie.
—Shuichiro Nelson Nomura, age 28
My feeling is that although “Ransom” is a powerful film, it is a sad commentary on our entertainment culture. Its gore and cursing is all to common in film!
—John F. Walker, age 37