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The River Wild
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Reviews & Ratings for
The River Wild More at IMDbPro »

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41 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Streep rides the rapids and has Bacon for breakfast

Author: Geofbob from London, England
14 August 2001

Meryl Streep plays a part out of her normal range in Curtis Hanson's 1994 actioner, as an expert whitewater rafter, who has to save herself and her son - eventually with the aid of hubby - from a couple of desperados, who insist on being taken through some awesome rapids. I don't know how much was Streep, how much stunt-double, and how much effects, but her character emerges as a convincing woman of action who is also an anxious mother.

Kevin Bacon is very effective as a regular guy, who just happens to be a psychotic criminal in his off moments; John C Reilly plays his weak, shifty sidekick; and Joseph Mazzello is the son, who initially finds Bacon more fun than his dad. It is David Strathairn, though, who for me takes the male acting honours, as a distant, serious-minded husband and father, who gets going when the going gets tough - though luckily, through thick and thin, he never loses his glasses!

There is more than a touch of Deliverance, and the ending is pre-ordained; but the film is entertaining and gripping throughout, and is aided by some breathtaking Rockies scenery, beautifully shot. (There's a faithful dog too!)

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Streep Braves the Rapids...and Succeeds.

8/10
Author: howiewins from Minnesota
16 January 2001

No, I didn't say Gail braves the rapids...but Meryl Streep, not only literally, but metaphorically. Streep is definitely the actress of our time, and in no small part to her ability to tackle difficult roles of many colors, and do them without breaking a sweat. Such is true with "The River Wild", a predictable, but entertaining river rapids adventure/hostage drama. Streep incorporates her role with strength, humor, and even a bit of vulnerability. Backed by the menacing Kevin Bacon and the refined David Strathairn (the ultimate everyman...that's a compliment), Streep holds her own in a genre that one doesn't necessarily think of when her name comes to mind. One tremendous scene involves Streep reminding her captor (Bacon) of the dangers of the upcoming waterfall/rapids system known as "The Gauntlet"...Streep whispers determination and threats, promises of anger and doom, directly into Bacon's ears with a quite rage, only to be turned to an edge-of-tears monologue when her family comes to mind. Bravo to Curtis Hanson's pre-"L.A. Confidential" film (1997's SHOULD HAVE for Director and Picture). The plot itself may have holes, but with the talents of Streep, backed with the reliable cast, "The River Wild" packs quite a punch of entertainment and thrills.

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Well-done and well-acted family thriller

7/10
Author: Star_Red
16 August 2002

River Wild is not really great or thrilling, but it's very entertaining due to the good acting by the entire cast and the beautiful nature scenery. I thought the relationships between all the characters and how they gradually change was the most believable and interesting part. How Kevin Bacon's character first strikes a bonding with the son, in order to win Meryl Streep's trust, and how this friendly atmosphere slowly glides to threat was very realistic. The only really annoying scene was the last one, where one police officer asks the son "What did your father do?", to which he replies "My father saved our lives". What a heroic, pathetic conversation after having survived such a life-threatening nightmare! All in all, this movie is recommendable, but you shouldn't expect too much.

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23 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Nothing too special but an enjoyable little thriller nonetheless

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
23 August 2004

To celebrate her son Roarke's birthday and help build his relationship with his father (and her), Gail takes the family unit up to where she used to work as a river guide for a bit of white water rafting. Once there they meet another group heading down river and, when Wade and Terry lose their guide, Gail agrees to let them follow them in their own boat. However when Gail and Tom begin to feel uncomfortable with their guests they try to slip away unnoticed – only for Wade to pull a gun and insist that Gail will help them proceed downriver and cross the legendary Gauntlet.

I first watched this when it came out in the cinema and I remember enjoying it. However noticing it back on television recently I couldn't help but be a little uninterested in it and wondered if I had just false memories of how good it really had been and so decided to watch it again and see. After a slow opening the film gets down to business with the two boats getting together and gradually going to the conclusion that we know is coming but enjoy heading towards anyway. The film delivers its straightforward plot well in the early stages, using the father-figure conflict well (even if it ignores the heavy feminist subtext) to generate the tension, while the later stages is more of a simple hostage thriller sort of affair. This aspect is still quite enjoyable even if it is not as tight as it really needed to be and, as a non-rafter, I wasn't sure how intimidated I was meant to be by the load of water that was the gauntlet.

As a result, the film is a little talky but the cast are able to deal with it and it is really only the clunky, slow start that suffers as a result. I'm not a big fan of Meryl Streep and I didn't think she was totally fitted to the material given her but mostly her performance was natural enough to be convincing. Strathairn plays second fiddle to Streep but he is still enjoyable as he delivers an insecure character. With these two big names in the lead it would have been easy for them to dominate but it is Kevin Bacon that steals the film with a charismatic performance that he easily turns into menace – hardly his greatest performance but he makes more of it than others have in the past. Mazzello is a typical 'cute kid' American actor but he is good enough for this material and he is pretty good in the first half when he is given the material. Reilly and Bratt add some well-known faces to the mix but really neither has that much to do.

Overall this is not a great film but it is good enough to be worth seeing once. The action is not typical for this genre and the novelty value of it makes it seem more interesting. The film looks good and it is tense enough to do the job while the plot gets past the slow start to deliver an interesting set up and a solid enough series of set pieces with a good cast and director onboard (sorry!).

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22 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

For The Most Part A Credible Thriller

7/10
Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
3 December 2005

THE RIVER WILD is not the most original thriller ever made , it's premise is " a clean cut family bump into a couple of desperate criminals in the sticks and their lives are now in serious danger " but it deserves some credit in not trying to paper over its flaws with ridiculous action sequences or other type of melodramatic plot twists . Perhaps the producers of the recent Jodie Foster thriller FLIGHTPLAN should have watched this to see how a family based thriller should be made ?

Some people may be put off by the fact that there's not much in the way of explosions , car chases or a massive body count and that there's a lot of talking but when you've got a thriller where Kevin Bacon is the bad guy ( And no 1990s movie was complete without Bacon as a bad guy ) if you do have a film that is watchable at the very least . And let me just repeat that this is a film where credibility takes precedence over action . There is a slight flaw where towards the end where one of the characters starts making devices out of stuff lying around ala MCGUYVER but for the most part this is an enjoyable thriller

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

An interesting adventure's movie

10/10
Author: lilian-s from Athens, Gr
1 November 2003

Gail used to be an expert rafting. Years later, during a family excursion in a wild river, she finds out the nightmare. Two cruel bandits, in the same river, try to escape and need her to help them. The pictures of the river and the open country are magnificent and we don't really have violent scenes in this movie. I appreciated the "zoom" on the heroes' faces, as we can see their emotions and reactions. They all were good. Kevin Bacon, much younger than the experienced M. Streep stands by her equally and proves once more his great talent.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

I'll never forget Kevin Bacon after seeing this

9/10
Author: Al Bundy from los angeles
25 August 2005

I'm not sure, but I don't think there is a bigger compliment that you can pay any actor but to say that his/her performance was bigger than the movie itself. It seemed to me that Kevin Bacon was not acting. That Kevin Bacon IS as mean and cruel as the character he portrayed. I cannot see Kevin in any movie without thinking of his performance in River Wild because I really think you're seeing the real deal. Because of that, Kevin was one of the most terrifying movie characters that I have ever experienced.

Seriously, in real life, Kevin Bacon may be a nice guy, may be a sweetheart, may do volunteer work, may go to church regularly, may be a good dad, may be a coach for his daughter's soccer team. I really don't know, but I tell you one thing, if I ever meet Kevin Bacon, I will tell him he gave an outstanding performance in this movie. And while I am in his company, I will NEVER turn my back on him. He just spooks me out and will always do so. what greater compliment is there? I thought this movie was extremely well cast. I know the ending is predictable, but the best thing about this movie is that it is believable. Anyone of us could have been stuck in that situation. Ever go up an elevator with a person who you feel uncomfortable with? If the elevator gets stuck... what do you do? This is basically the same as the movie. Most movies either have a totally unbelievable theme or something happens in the movie that is totally illogical. In this movie, however, every thing that happens is believable and could have happened to you.

still Bacon scares the hell out of me

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Decent thriller with several good performances and terrific scenery

8/10
Author: Juni78ukr (juni78ukr@yahoo.com) from Odessa, Ukraine
3 May 2005

I watched The River Wild mainly for two reasons. The first one was incredibly talented young actor named Joseph Mazello, while the second was Kevin Bacon, also very good and underrated actor in my opinion. I expected just an average thriller or something like that but this movie managed to surpass my expectations. Though it wasn't a great or Oscar-worthy movie I found The River Wild mostly good and entertained, worth seeing movie. The story is concentrated on average dysfunctional family with workaholic father, who have almost lost a contact with his wife and two kids. They undertake a raft journey on vacation to celebrate their eldest son, Rourke birthday and in the same time trying to save their dying marriage. This at first calm and beautiful journey gets unexpectedly dangerous when the family meet on their way two strangers (played by Kevin Bacon and John C.Reilly), who also for their own reasons go to a journey with the same route. The story is not flawless and has some plot holes but overall it's not bad written. Well, maybe it's quite predictable but I don't think that such predictability harmed the movie too much. The acting overall was pretty good. To my surprise somehow happened that Meryl Streep became a weakest part in this excellent cast ensemble. I think she was a bit unconvincing as careful mother as well as a strong rafter. Another problem is that her character (Gail) is not developed as much as the movie needs it. For unknown reasons she got even a Golden Globe nomination for this movie but anyway The River Wild definitely is not among her best works. David Straithairn is much better playing Gail's husband and Roarke's father. Kevin Bacon is brilliant as evil, psychotic villain, while John C.Reilly gave decent performance of his diffident, weak-willed sidekick. And finally Joseph Mazello, the most talented actor among entire casts in the movie. His part didn't give him many opportunities to show his talent but in those short moments his acting was beautiful and he was able to overshadow others. Despite all these very good performances the most exceptional thing about The River Wild is not the good acting but a beautiful scenery and excellent cinematography that have captured it. Even only this terrific scenery, filmed somewhere in Oregon, is enough to make this movie worth seeing. It's simply beyond my words. Finally, it is worth to mention nice score, written by Jerry Goldmith, with excellent main theme.

In the conclusion The River Wild is not great but quite a good movie, with good casts, acting and one of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. My grade 7,5 or B.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great movie!

Author: FadingParadise from New Mexico
6 January 2003

I love this movie! Primarily because I love movies where girls kick ass! This is the only action flick I've seen Streep in and she holds her own. (Rumor has it she did a lot of her own stunts.) But I'm also a big fan of sleeper actor David Strathairn, and he does a great job, as always, and proves himself a superb supporting actor. Kevin Bacon is great as a creepy bad guy, it's a natural role for him.

Sure, the plausibility gets a little thin in spots, but hey, it's a movie! Sit back and enjoy the action and some really good acting.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Great action movie with beautiful scenery

8/10
Author: helpless_dancer from Broken Bow, Oklahoma
16 December 1998

The best actress of them all was in this exciting film. Admittedly, the story was an old one with the usual predictable ending, but I love just about anything with Streep in it. She is so believable in her parts. Kevin Bacon acted the part of a psycho very well. The sequences shot at the waterfalls kept the adrenaline flowing in this fast paced thriller.

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