Ransom (1996) starring Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Brawley Nolte, Gary Sinise, Delroy Lindo, Lili Taylor, Liev Schreiber, Donnie Wahlberg, Evan Handler directed by Ron Howard Movie Review

Ransom (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Mel Gibson as Tom Mullen in Ransom

Gibson's Phone Rant at Kidnapper

"Ransom" is a surprisingly well thought out kidnap thriller, subplots and what seem minor moments link nicely togeter to create an effective storyline which has motive. And director Ron Howard does a nice job of creating atmosphere and delivering tension with a mix of emotional drama and explosive action. At the same time he controls the storyline delivering a series of twists in a pleasantly clever manner so that they help build the tension till it reaches an expectedly fraught climax. And you can add to this a strong cast which features Mel Gibson, Rene Russo and Gary Sinise who are all on top of their game delivering some knock out performances. But there is just one major problem with "Ransom" and it comes down to the fact that it is Ron Howard directing the movie and there is no way that he will allow for anything really bad to happen to a kidnapped child, basically the kid is not going to die or get hurt in a major way. And the sad consequence of this is that even before "Ransom" starts you can guess the outcome.

Having built his airline company from scratch and done whatever it takes to protect it, including bribing officials, Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson - Maverick) is now a prominent millionaire who lives with his wife Kate (Rene Russo - Tin Cup) and son Sean (Brawley Nolte) in a swanky apartment. But when Sean is suddenly kidnapped Tom's life comes crumbling down as the kidnappers deman $2,000,000 in ransom. With the FBI advising Tom and Kate what to do they are more than willing to meet the kidnappers demands but when things start going wrong Tom turns the tables on the kidnappers in a move which not only threatens his sons life but also his marriage.

Rene Russo and Brawley Nolte in Ransom

I have to say that "Ransom" is a well constructed movie and whilst there are some minor moments of padding, such as an almost corny party and TV advert which opens the movie, pretty much everything links together. Following the kidnapping of Sean, the storyline kicks in and everything interweaves, the girl with the tattooed neck is important, the fact that Tom had recently paid to silence someone to keep his business clean makes him a willing payer. And so it goes on because everything connects, one thing provides a reason for something else and it makes "Ransom" a movie which because it has been thought out is entertaining to follow. And the fact that there are various layers of twists makes it even more compelling especially as Mullen basically turns the tables on the kidnappers. If it wasn't for the simple fact that you can't see Ron Howard sacrificing a kidnapped child it could have been a really good modern thriller which kept you guessing right up till the end.

And that is the biggest sticking point for "Ransom" because you can't see Ron Howard allowing for anything majorly bad to happen to the innocent Sean. And so whilst there are a series of clever twists which build as the story unfolds you can guess that the outcome will be the kid is found and it becomes all about Tom getting even with the main man behind the kidnapping. It's just far too obvious and sadly spoils what could have been an impressive thriller in the hands of a director who wasn't afraid to court controversy.

Aside from this issue Ron Howard does a good job as director especially when it comes to the pacing of the movie. "Ransom" nicely builds up to a thrilling action fueled climax but he never allows the pace and action to get out of hand and turning the thriller into just an action movie. It's because of this that the powerful scenes, the arguement which Mullen has with the kidnapper on the phone ends up being the most memorable and powerful moments rather than the action scenes. And on top of this Howard delivers some nice touches, the whole styling, locations and camera angles has a touch of the Hitchcock about it and in fact you could imagine Hitchcock directing exactly this sort of movie even taking the risk which Howard choses not to.

It also helps that Ron Howard has brought together an impressive cast and all of the cast from the main characters such as Renne Russo as Kate Mullen and Gary Sinise as Det. Jimmy Shaker through to the minor roles such as Delroy Lindo as Agent Lonnie Hawkins and Lili Taylor as Maris Conner all deliver believeable performances. But it is Mel Gibson who drives the movie and does so in such a brilliant manner delivering this man who as someone who has built up a business is clever, is logical and a risk taking fighter yet it is blended with the emotional turmoil of a missing child brilliantly. And so when we watch Mullen turn the tables on the kidnapper it is believable because the character has been so well developed and that is mostly down to Mel Gibson getting it spot on.

what this all boils down to is that "Ransom" is a surprisingly good thriller and draws you into this clever storyline of a child being kidnapped and held up for ransom. It is all very believable and the twists add a brilliant edge to the movie. But the sad thing is that whilst Ron Howard does a good job of directing it is the simple fact that you can't imagine him allowing an innocent child to be hurt means that the outcome can be predicted even before the movie starts.