Ransom (Ron Howard, 1996)


Mel Gibson (Tom Mullen), Gary Sinise (Detective Jimmy Shaker), Rene Russo (Kate Mullen), Liev Schreiber (Clark Barnes), Delroy Lindo (Agent Lonnie Hawkins). Rating: 18. Running time: 121 minutes.

What a pleasant surprise. I dug this one up for a laugh, really not expecting much. Mel Gibson trying to get his son back from kidnappers demanding four million dollars hardly sounded like something original or particularly thrilling. It also doesn’t help that Ron Howard has developed a reputation in my eyes for making popular but pretty average films. Ransom, however, whilst obviously far from excelling artistically or being anything mind-blowingly spectacular, is nevertheless surprisingly entertaining and a little cleverer than one might expect. Powered by Gibson’s performance, which definitely is excellent, we’re shown a business tycoon who doesn’t play the game as the FBI or common sense would advise him to: rather than agreeing to the kidnappers’ demands, he publicly announces that the amount they have requested is the reward money for someone turning them in. It’s a gamble, but he’s convinced if he just gives them the money his son will be dead anyway, so whilst painfully counterintuitive in his wife’s and everybody’s elses eyes, he knows that rationally it’s probably the best thing he can do.

It works, kind of, but not in the way he would have expected. And, as we all know from the start, the criminals are never going to get away. But the nature of Gibson’s gamble and the way the story maps out does make Ransom better than most rival thrillers in its field. I don’t give star ratings anymore, but in this case it feels useful. Ransom is a solid three out of four. It does exactly what you want it to, and that little bit extra.

One Response to “Ransom (Ron Howard, 1996)”

  1. 1 High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) « jacob williamson | thoughts on film

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: