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Tom Mullen is a millionaire, he built his fortune by working hard. Along the way he learned how to play the game. He has a great family. One day his son is kidnapped. He is willing to pay the ransom but decides to call in the FBI, who manages to go into his home secretly. When he goes to make the drop something goes wrong. The kidnapper calls him again and reschedules it. On the way Mullen decides not to go and appears on TV saying that the ransom he was going to give to the kidnapper is now a bounty on the kidnapper. Written by
"Ransom" is no ordinary kidnapping thriller. It's a tense and believable thrill ride where even the people who seem to be in control are in fact not. And they know it.
Self-made airline tycoon Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) has it all: a beautiful wife (Rene Russo), an intelligent young son (Brawley Nolte), and a thriving business. That's all about to change when his son is kidnapped. The FBI, led by Lonnie Hawkins (Delroy Lindo), is on the case, but after a mishap, Tom loses confidence in their abilities to get his son back. Tom decides to turn the tables on the kidnappers: he's offering the 2 million dollar ransom as a bounty for the kidnappers.
The best thing about "Ransom" is that no one knows who's in control. Tom may be calling the shots, but he's very aware that this gamble could end in disaster, something that neither his wife, Lonnie, nor the kidnappers are happy about. However, it also could turn in his favor: the kidnappers know that this is an opportunity to get the whole ransom that they were going to split between them.
Mel Gibson is one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and for good reason: not only is he very photogenic, he's an effective performer. Mullen is a desperate man, but taking risks is what he does best. Gibson is well-cast in the role. Rene Russo was the go-to female star for mainstream movies, but her career has fallen recently. While she's no Meryl Streep, she's a good actress. She doesn't have the juiciest part, but she's no mere housewife, and Russo makes the most of it. I've never been a fan of Delroy Lindo; his delivery seems pretty hammy in his performances, and there's no reason why Lonnie couldn't have been played by someone better. Gary Sinise is good, but too low-key.
Ron Howard started his career as a teenage actor, but now he's one of the hottest directors in Hollywood. Howard knows how to make a movie. "Ransom" is suspenseful and unpredictable. It's efficiently made and involving. What more could one ask for? The only problem I have with the film is the ending. It's not what happens (it's more or less inevitable), but Howard obviously did it the way he did as a concession to the studios: the last couple of minutes are so wildly improbable and over the top it destroys the taut level of suspense that has been built up.
Nevertheless, the majority of the film is well worth it.
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