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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.
This time around i decided to watch 1996's Ransom.
I saw this in the cinema when it was released, but for some reason I have never revisited it. And I had totally forgotten how good this movie is!!
All the cast are superb. I cannot praise them highly enough here. Gibson who has contributed some tough fisted, hard as nails characters over the years is perfect as the vulnerable panic stricken father. Re teaming with Gibson after Lethal Weapon 3 is Rene Russo who is excellent as the desperate mother. Gary Sinese, Delroy Lindo, Donnie Whalberg, Liev Shrieber and Paul Guilfoyle are all solid support. There is not one weak link in the cast
Ron Howard has directed a movie that is a highly professional piece of work, swift and suspenseful, with a good sense of pace and atmosphere it makes for perfect entertainment.
Gibson is truly a great actor, and hopefully he can sort his personal problems and demons out, because as we all know Hollywood loves comebacks.
Richard Price and Alexander Ignon have delivered a screenplay that grabs the attention early, and though it lulls somewhat in the early stages after a pacey start, the tension that is generated in the final third of the film is truly tangible.
Gibson is easy to identify with as self made multi-millionaire Tom Mullen, and he is most believable as the father desperate to find his son. Evergreen Mel improves as the movie progresses, yet one can't help but wonder how much of a stretch this role is for him. For an actress of obvious talent, Rene Russo gets very little to do, yet she does well as the anxious mother praying for the return of her lost child. The support cast are perhaps the movie's real strength, with Delroy Lindo hard to miss as the FBI man in charge of the operation trying to find the boy ( Brawley Nolte ). Even more impressive though is Gary Sinise as detective Jimmy Shaker. Indeed an eye catching about face for an actor accustomed to 'lighter' roles ( "Apollo 13", "Forrest Gump" ).
Editors Dan Hanley and Michael Hill could perhaps have tightened up the first half of the film, but their work on the latter half is most commendable. The music from Howard Shore is right on the mark, as is the cinematography from Piotr Sobocinski. Director Ronny never pretends to be delivering any more than professional, reliable entertainment with a few small surprises. The result is a safe bet, a good night out.
Sunday, November 17, 1996 - Hoyts Forest Hill Chase
But the other villains aren't well-developed. The one wrong performance(not bad, wrong) is by Gary Sinise; he tries, but he's just not convincing here, mostly sounding forced. And the last 15 minutes are melodramatic and unconvincing. The elements were all there, but it doesn't deliver.
In 1996, when this film was being released, I was first being introduced to cinema. I was going to theater at any opportunity, I was being pulled into these less-than spectacular situations, and people like Gibson, Sinise, Russo, and Howard were idols because of what they could accomplish on screen. But like any child, I was pulled into the glamour, the hype, and the glitz, while in retrospect, the basics were being missed. Watching "Ransom", now thirteen years later, it just doesn't seem like the type of film that deserved wide release. Watching this film today, it felt more like a superimposed made-for-TV movie than a blockbuster. To begin, director Ron Howard was out of his element with this film. "Apollo 13", "Blackdraft", "Splash", even "Willow" seems to be more nature based dramas, so to feel him helming this violence-based drama, it just felt staged and unfocused. In the director commentary, Howard discusses how he attempted to use POV shots to convey the story and develop his characters, and while the idea was present, the execution just felt phony. The juggle between Gibson and Russo's perspective at times felt dizzy to the viewer. Yes, the details around a kidnapped child have that effect; it creates havoc for the viewer – ultimately missing stronger themes throughout. That isn't to say Howard didn't have some powerful shots with his cinematographer, overall "Ransom" just missed the strength behind the camera. Then, as if to overcompensate for this, Howard allows his actors to overpower the screen with their over-the-top characters. Gibson, a wealthy airline tycoon, goes from passive father to vengeful cynic (a la "Payback") in a mere instant, allowing – sadly - more drama to unfold between Russo and Sinise.
Who was the central focus of this film? This is an excellent question for Mr. Howard as well as the cast. Is Gibson the main character? Is his child the main character or merely the developing plot? Is the wooden Delroy Lindo a major player, or is Sinise just trying to keep up with Gibson's anger? Valid questions that, alas, cannot be answered by this film. "Ransom" attempts to bring too many twists and turns into an already filled suitcase, and the end result is catastrophe. If this would have merely been a story about Gibson reacting to the capture of his son, and Sinise never being revealed until the end, then "Ransom" would have successfully accomplished with what it set out to do. The pivotal ending would have been more controlled and dramatic, that this would have made this normal film stand proud. Instead, Howard incorporates two "family" dramas together, the Gibson family, and the jumbled undeveloped Sinise family whom includes Lili Taylor, Liev Schriber, Evan Handler, and Donnie Wahlberg. Again, this would work well on paper if we would have the opportunity to see via each perspective, but we do not even within the two hours. Therefore it becomes further unfocused, and disruptive to the central conflict.
Finally, the last twenty minutes were mere fluff. Not to give away plot, but it felt like it was placed there for those wishing Gibson would provide some much needed action to the screen. Nothing that developed, nothing that revealed, nothing that enhanced, merely staged action for a drunk with Hollywood money audience. It was shameful.
Overall, I disliked "Ransom". When I first began this review, I was in a love/hate relationship, but as I wrote I found more issues with this film. The lack of development between minor characters, the entire Jackie Brown subplot was embarrassing, and the scene in which Russo visits the church just wasted my time. The transitions between scenes and plots were lacking, which I blame directly on Howard's inability to control what was happening. He had a strong focus, but the execution is where it faltered. I do not see myself watching this film ever again – and ultimately will smile when seen on late night TV or in the dollar bin – that was the feel of "Ransom".
Grade: ** out of *****
Still "Ransom" is a very good watchable movie. OK calling it average maybe is not completely fair by me maybe, cause "Ransom" is more than average at times.
It really is good that this movies shows both sides of the kidnap, both the little boy's (Brawley Nolte, yes, indeed the son of...) parents (Mel Gibson, Rene Russo) and the kidnappers (Gary Sinise, Lili Taylor, Liev Schreiber, Donnie Wahlberg, Evan Handler.). The fact that it also shows the kidnappers is what makes this movie even more tense actually.
I'm sorry but I just can't stand Rene Russo in this movie. Her character really irritated me at times. Best actor is Gary Sinise who was really 'hot' in the mid-90's, ever since his Oscar nomination for one of my personal favorite movie's, "Forrest Gump". It was also nice to see the at the time fairly unknown actor Donnie Wahlberg, who also did a good job.
The music by James Horner is good, still I'm curious about the original Howard Shore score.
Yes the movie has some good moments and is perfectly watchable but it most certainly is not Ron Howard's or Mel Gibson's best. It also is not a movie that I enjoy watching multiple times. Also the original from 1956 is still a better movie even if it doesn't have action or a spectacular ending. At least it was more tense and less predictable as this movie was at times.
"Ransom", it turns-out, is directed by one of my favorite directors: Ron Howard. I never even knew that until this viewing, so many years later. It's such a tight, tense movie dealing with a rich man's son being kidnapped and held for a ransom. And yet, even though the premise can sound bland to someone whom hasn't seen the movie, it has some of the best twists and turns ever executed in a movie, in my opinion. It's such an awesome flick, and I can't recommend it enough to everyone I talk to. I hate that this movie has become a forgotten gem. It's better than "Taken", if you happen to like that movie.
The cast is exceptional, all around. Especially Mel Gibson and Gary Sinise. They both stole the show, here. I had even forgotten Sinise was in this film, until I picked it up, the other day. He's one of my all-time favorite actors, and that just added to how exciting it was to re-watch this stellar thriller. The cat is also filled with many, many faces I know you'll know, if you love movies with a passion.
The cinematography is something beautiful about "Ransom", as well. It just looks so nice, even on VHS (since that isn't a popular form of viewing film in 2019, I think it just goes to show how excellently made this film actually is).
I will also give you the heads-up about this: there's a lot of gore in "Ransom". Not to the levels of something's like "Hostel" or "Saw", but it's still pretty up-there. Which, in my opinion, made it all the more effective, compared to most thrillers that are put out, even to this day.
Don't leave this awesome movie in the 90s! Check it out, if you haven't seen this forgotten wonder of the thriller genre! You won't regret it!
The story is a straightforward kidnapping tale and I'm sure the rest of the reviews here at IMDb have covered the basics. I'll cover the hallucinatory parts that Ron Howard thinks are real:
1) Gibson plays the owner of the fourth largest airline in the US. Yet, he takes Sunday off with his wife and son to hang out at the NY City Kids Science Fair, without security or an entourage. The idea that a guy who is busy running an airline he built himself would take an entire day off to waltz around a science fair with only his wife and kid is idiotic enough, but to do so without security and assistants, etc... takes this into the realm of fantasy.
2) Gibson and his family went through an excruciating three month FBI investigation where Gibson's character was investigated for bribing a union official. Gibson confesses to the lead FBI agent covering the kidnapping that he is, in fact, guilty of the bribe and that he lied to cover it up. At the end of movie Gibson should be in jail, but the career FBI officer doesn't do anything with the information except tell Gibson's wife.
3) Gibson's character ignores his kid at the science fair, which enables the kidnappers to grab the kid. Gibson lied to his wife about paying the bribe and put the entire family through a hellish FBI investigation. Now, Gibson refuses to pay the ransom, and seemingly places his kid in danger when everyone else is telling him to pay it. In the real world, this would cause a lot of marital problems, and might in fact lead to a divorce since Gibson has lied to wife about some serious issues and placed their child in extreme danger. Of course, its a happy family at the end.
3) Gibson's wife only has $500,000 to her name despite being married to a billionaire for 20 years.
4) Gibson goes on TV and offers a two million dollar bounty on the kidnappers which he later raises to four million. Now in the real world, this reason this doesn't happen is because its against the law to offer money for someone's death. Again, the moment after he made those threats, Gibson should be in jail. In Ron Howard land, nothing happens.
5) The kidnapper, who is smart enough to plan and pull off the kidnapping, is stupid enough at the end of the movie to walk into Gibson's home to collect the reward, despite knowing that Gibson's kid would recognize him since the kid has heard his voice. 'Nuff said, this movie was garbage.
Overview: Tom Mullen, is a Selfmade Millionaire and Familyman, who has everything. But his son is taken from him, so Tom, contacts the FBI. Sent to assist him is the same agent(Delroy Lindo) who investigated Gibson on a prior Bribery accusation, involving his company. The Kidnappers demand Ransom, but the drop is botched when the FBI intervenes. Now Gibson is forced to face the hard fact that he may never get his son back, and decides to take an unthinkable gamble!
TO THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN THE MOVIE: The most emotional scene I have ever scene, is just after Shaker fires the Gun at Tom's son. The Gibson and Russo interaction on the Balcony was amazing. I was also very pleased with the Depth Lindo and the Screenplay gave his character. You see his willingness to Manipulate Tom and his wife, to save their son. But his straight forward comment to Tom, about possibly using his comments against him, during Tom's Bribery's confession, shows his Character's character. The movie often forced me to Empathize with these people and their plight, shoving me face first into each moment. Even the crew of kidnappers felt real. Although they were the bad guys they weren't made out to be the embodiment of evil, they were human, corrupted regular people. Howard as director did exactly as he should have, he made you forget you were watching a movie! No matter how many times I watch this, it always entertains and impresses me.
I read someone didn't like the happy ending. At least me, I do like happy endings, or at least feel that everything make sense, or have a reason to tell the story. Was satisfactory ending. All I can ask for.
I try to be very strict on movies. Want realism, action with meaning, interesting stories with good execution, good editing, good effects, good acting, etc. On this case I just can't say anything bad about this movie. Maybe a little sad, but you can expect that from a ransom.
If you want drama and action, you should like it. Maybe not the best movie, but very satisfactory to watch. I watch it 3 times, and still plan watch it again in the future.
Warning Possible Spoilers. This is my first review so I'm not quite sure how much I should say.
So anyways, I'll assume you've already seen this but if you haven't, well would you be surprised to know that this is about a kidnapping! As an airline exec. Mel has made some enemies' and one day his son is taken by Gary Sinise & Co. Well, at first Mel cooperates but he soon thinks that he'll never see his son again, alive anyways, if he pays. What follows is a spectacular scene in which Mel dedicates his life to finding and terribly murdering those responsible. Thing is Gary is a cop and is that a great cover or what!
Even if you don't like Mel still rent this one. You'll love it!
After this climactic scene - the movie winds up about a half hour later with an action packed ending.
"Ransom" is an average movie, some suspenseful scenes but overall too predictable. Giving away that this movie will have a happy ending is not even a spoiler. One knows from the start. Not for a second can this movie make you believe that the boy will die.
But for a second I thought (hoped) that the corrupt cop who kidnapped the boy but then decided to collect the bounty reward by killing his accomplices and "freeing" the boy would get away with the money. I would like this ending way better: Mel Gibson's character gives the corrupt cop the reward. The FBI finds out that the cop was involved in the kidnapping but since he left the country he gets away with the 4 million dollars.
This movie is also not very realistic as some actions are not credible: The FBI shooting one of the kidnappers in the ransom pickup is unrealistic in that situation and would be a huge threat to the life of the boy as is Mel Gibson's refuse to pay the two million, not to mention the threat the bounty reward poses to his son.
Mel Gibson's character's wife thinks that the actions of his husband are wrong and there is tension between them as she tries to somehow get 2 million (she does not) and pay the ransom without telling her husband. A second sub-plot deals with Mel Gibson's illegal business stuff about which the FBI knows. Both sub-plot are fine but not done as good as they could have been.
In the ending scene, Ron Howard uses slow-motion in an "action" sequence. It looks really ridiculous. I hate this ending. Gibson could have at least shot the villain but no. As the cops want to arrest Gibson because he carries a gun that he pointed at the villain (whom the police shoots as he reaches for a gun), one of the FBI agents jumps in between and saves him from being arrested. It made me laugh...don't think that was intended. At the end the family is united and wife and husband seem to have forgiven one another after the kidnapping had almost tore apart their relationship.
The directing is rather poor and the script is bad because the basic story line could have worked (with a different ending). Mel Gibson's performance was weak. He fails to make his character and thus the whole movie believable.
I cannot recommend this movie. It has a some good parts but, overall, it is predictable and unbelievable. Plus it has a stupid ending (think I already mentioned that)
** 5.0/10 **
There also is a ton of suspense as the police race to save a young boy from a vicious kidnapper. Not exactly something new, story-wise, but it keeps your attention for the full two hours. Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Deroy Lindro, Gary Sinise, Lily Taylor, Liev Schreiber and Donnie Wahlberg make for a deep and talented cast.
The action wasn't overdone and the story was a very involving one. I only had one criticism of it but if I mention it, I ruin the ending. Suffice to say this was an intense, interesting movie marred only by overdone verbal blasphemy, most of it by Gibson (in his pre-"Passion" days, obviously.)