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The Riverman
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Riverman (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly chilling performance from Elwes as Bundy...

9/10
Author: WitheringSage (WitheringSage@aol.com) from Sacramento, California
7 September 2004

I didn't know what to expect when I began watching this movie. I was immediately intrigued once it began going, however. This is the true story of how Ted Bundy (Cary Elwes) actually helped to find the Green River Killer back in the early 80's in his attempts to get a lighter sentence and avoid the death penalty. Although this movie is not about Ted Bundy it does go into his crimes a little bit and you get to know a little bit more about Bundy's twisted psyche. The performances were great, but the one that stands out is Elwes portrayal of the serial killer Ted Bundy. I didn't know if he could pull it off, but he did an excellent job and was very believable and his performance was chilling. I give this movie a 9/10.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Only if you have a lot of interest in serial killers

5/10
Author: starring-1 from Texas
6 September 2004

First I must say that Cary Elwes did a very convincing portrayal of Ted Bundy. I thought he looked a lot like him and did a good acting job.

This movie is for those who want to go deeply into the killer's mind and perhaps discover new things about Bundy and his childhood. (For instance in one part he tells the detective that as a child his mother threatened to send him to stay with his grandfather if he wasn't good and that he would try to be good but she would send him there anyway; then his grandfather would lock him in a closet). It also caused me to think about how much more useful it would be to keep people like him alive to analyze, study and try to understand what triggered his heinous psychology.

This is a dark movie and not entertaining; not something I would watch for entertainment or fun in any sense. It was more like watching reenactments and felt sometimes more like watching a documentary than a movie.

The film also goes into the psychology somewhat of a serial killer known as "The Green River Killer."

I think of this as more of an educational film. Women for instance could watch it with an eye to learn tricks Bundy and the Green River Killer used to catch their prey (both seemed to like the trick of pretending to be disabled and in need of help for example). The film also highlights what it is like for those who interviewed Bundy hoping he could help them get into the mind of another killer they were trying to apprehend -- how dark and freaky it is. All around, as is its subject, the movie it pretty grisly. Definitely not a "date movie," haha.

Some people are fascinated with learning more about serial killers and for those people this is probably a film they would like to see; but for most of us, I think we would rather be spared all the grisly details.

Good acting all around and good cinematography, etc.; slow moving, graphic photos of murdered women I would rather not have seen. I personally would not recommend this movie to anyone other than those I mentioned above -- who like to study this sort of thing and are always hungry for more details. Lots of creepiness here!

And please, mothers, fathers and others: don't lock the kid(s) up in the closet!! I gave this a 5 rating.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Superb acting by Cary Elwes and Bruce Greenwood

10/10
Author: Cynthia Price from United States
2 September 2005

I just saw this on TV from about the halfway point only, but was familiar with the plot from my reading. I'm anxious to see it again. I thought Cary Elwes BECAME Ted Bundy in a way that was eerie and absolutely impressive. Bruce Greenwood had a part that could have been mundane, but his tremendous depth as an actor turned it into a disturbing and memorable role. And I thought their joint scenes were .. well, completely intense -- contrary to the lead-in review from IMDb. Greenwood has always been one of my favorites, but I found Elwes a bit more of a surprise. Would recommend this to acting classes everywhere and to anyone who can withstand an in-depth look at psyches that are way outside normal boundaries.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Pretty Good TV Movie

8/10
Author: mdeckard21-1
6 September 2004

A&E is pretty good at making shows about serial killers, so why not make a movie, right? The answer is yes. This is a well done TV film that hopefully will not be overlooked by the public. It has some of the stuff we've seen before but it saves itself with great pacing and deep emotion filled performances from it's two leads. Bruce Greenwood And Cary Elwes make this movie feel like a theatre released motion picture. The direction is a little card-boardish but that's forgivable seeing is that this is a made for TV film. I watched twice tonight when it came on, and taped it the second time. I would recommend this movie to any fan of psychology. It goes deep into the mind of a ruthless killer and it never comes back from the edge.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

It's a fascinating look at Bundy & Ridgway

9/10
Author: (sylviastel@aol.com) from United States
13 September 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had just bought the book, The Riverman, in Ketchikan, Alaska. I was on vacation and I bought it at a drugstore. It is perhaps one of the best books ever written about Bundy. Keppel does not leave anything out regarding Bundy or Ridgway in the book but the film version is conduced to keeping the important facts and information. Those pictures of Bundy's murder victims are real authentic. What other films about Bundy fail to express is what he did with the bodies of his murdered victims afterwards. In order to catch the Green River Killer, he had to befriend Ted Bundy, played admirably by Cary Elwes. He does such an excellent job that it's frightening and often chilling. Cary Elwes is the best Bundy I have ever seen in television movies. He even brings out a sympathetic side to his human monster never before. No, this movie is not for children or squeamish adults. If the viewers watch without much information, they may not be able to grasp the horror of both the Green River and Bundy's legacies. But watch how Bundy uses his knowledge to try to solve one of the world's biggest mysteries. While Bundy did not live long enough to see the Riverman's capture, he died a complete coward and confessed to all his crimes with hopes of saving his own life.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Excellent True Crime TV Movie

8/10
Author: Alex-372 from The Hague, The Netherlands
18 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Riverman is a pretty good made for TV movie. Many movies based on books are of a better quality, because the screenplay has a lot more to work with.

Riverman was written by Robert Keppel, and published long before Gary Leon Ridgway was caught for the Green River serial murders.

The book is based around Keppel's interviews with another serial killer, Ted Bundy, who also committed many of his murders in Washington State. The idea of a profiler going out and interviewing a (famous) serial killer was also the basis for the movie Silence Of The Lambs, with Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins.

Where the movie is very good, is in showing the internal world of so many serial killers - the sociopath's inability to feel emotion except under extreme circumstances, the childhood abuse, etc. What it only slightly touches upon is the fact that for Ted Bundy, killing was only a means to an end. He was a necrophiliac who enjoyed the corpses more than the live persons, and God knows whatever other psychotic factors were in play as well. It remains a mystery why he kept the skulls - sex? Did they talk to him? These issues are brought up in a rather rushed manner, compared to the book. But that is only a minor quibble, and perhaps inevitable in a made for TV movie.

The irony is that Robert Keppel was only marginally involved in actually catching either Bundy or Ridgway. Bundy was caught because of a traffic violation, and Keppel wasn't even involved at all in Ridgway's apprehension in late November 2001.

I would like to add that the movie also accurately shows that these individuals are rather pathetic geeks once apprehended. They prey on the most vulnerable people in society, and often only then during their most vulnerable moments. They abuse the general trust people and societies need to operate. In short, anyone can sneak up on someone and hit them over the head. It is also why female serial killers almost exclusively target the very old and the very young, and very often use poison. They only very rarely kill adult men by violent means (Aileen Wuornos is the exception).

This is a very good true crime movie, however as a movie, it has some problems.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A frightening look into the mind of a monster...

9/10
Author: td_gwendy from Philippines
18 October 2012

I've seen a couple of Ted Bundy movies and they were more of a slasher horror fest based on real events. Although The Riverman is also based on real events, and in particular the book authored by Robert "Bob" Keppel (played by Bruce Greenwood in the movie), this made-for-TV movie to me felt a lot creepier than the other two Bundy films I had mentioned.

Now before you go running off to the DVD store, you have to know that this is no slasher flick. This movie is scary for its psychological insights into the mind of a monster, particularly that of Ted Bundy. What's even scarier is how well Cary Elwes plays the role of Bundy, from his gestures, his voice, and most especially his eyes. It is perhaps one, or could be Elwes's best performance yet, albeit not quite recognized.

Though a made for TV movie, it felt more like a silver screen feature. The acting never feels forced, the pacing satisfactory, and the script very intense especially towards the film's conclusion. There may be an amateurish feel towards the cinematography, but over all, a very good, chilling film.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Shades of other films, but a distinct style of its own

Author: inkburned
7 September 2004

One thing I noticed about this movie almost immediately was the similarities between it and Silence of the Lambs. The theme of the detective going to one serial killer in order to penetrate the mind of another serial killer is present within both films, but after that the similarities begin to dissipate. Bruce Greenwood as Robert Keppel allows his character to have faults and use at least some of them to his advantage. Cary Elwes is almost unrecognizable in his nuanced performance as Ted Bundy.

For me, the direction left nothing to be desired. Although movies and novels about murderers and serial killers are a dime a dozen these days (check the blurbs on the back of the paperback novels in the 'book' section of your grocery store, if it has one) 'The Riverman' adds some unexpected details that added depth to the characters and their story. There are glimpses into the minds of Bundy and Keppel throughout the movie, and I was pleased to see how they compared and overlapped. The energy was not as frantic as some cop shows make the serial killer chase out to be, but there was still a sense of urgency and electricity underlying the interactions between Bundy, Keppel, and the young detective Dave Reichert who tries his best to do the job right. The control and fresh take on this piece take it above and beyond the rest of the TV movies I've seen, and there have been a lot of them.

Four and a half out of five.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

the real Hannibal Lecter

6/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
26 April 2016

It's 1982 Washington State. A woman's body is pulled from the Green River. Dave Reichert (Sam Jaeger) from the King County sheriff's department seeks the help of Ted Bundy (Cary Elwes) expert Robert Keppel (Bruce Greenwood). Keppel was a new detective as the Bundy case unfolded and was part of the Bundy task force. Bundy contacts Keppel and the duo goes to Florida to visit him in prison.

This is part of the inspiration for The Silence of the Lambs. It's noticeable but it doesn't dwell on it. Bruce Greenwood holds this together. It's rather basic TV movie stylistically. Cary Elwes is a pretty looking killer. He has a different type of power. One wonders why a seemingly nice looking guy kills. He has a believable charm that can pull others in and that is his danger. I would love to had these two actors be directed by someone better in a cinematic theatrical release.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

More cinematic than your usual TV-film, and reasonably well-done overall

6/10
Author: TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews from Earth
5 October 2007

I haven't read the book behind this, and I don't know too many details about Bundy or the Green River Killer case. I caught this on TV, and it looked interesting enough, so I watched it, more or less attentively. I haven't seen any footage of the real Bundy, but according to others, Cary Elwes does well in portraying him accurately... and I can attest to the fact that he manages to be quite creepy. I don't know that I would have thought he would be able to play a part like that, if nothing else, so convincingly. The acting in general isn't bad. I haven't seen anything else by the director, but he does fairly well. The film doesn't feel or look "TV", but rather like something produced for the silver screen. Editing and cinematography are good. They never get flashy or overdone, either. The pacing isn't bad, but the movie isn't particularly intense considering what it's about. The end comes somewhat abruptly. The movie could have been longer, and maybe it should have, because what's there is good, but it could have used more time spent on it. This is said to be the best acting job on Bundy thus far seen, so anyone looking for that might want to give this a look. A good enough TV-movie. I recommend this to those interested in the subject and fans of the actors and/or film-makers. 6/10

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