The 1996 thriller film Ransom centers on every parent’s worst nightmare: learning that one’s own child has been kidnapped, and only a hefty payment could (supposedly) return the child. It doesn’t matter how much money the crooks demand. It can never exceed the value of the child’s life, and to lose that child’s life is to lose one’s own as well. Director Ron Howard was certainly brave to tackle on such a sensitive topic, and he certainly does a fine job leading the filming process. Mel Gibson and Rene Russo as Tom and Kate Mullen, respectively, are pretty good as the grief-stricken parents in this story.
I will admit right now that the first half of the movie was just OK for me. The first several minutes are definitely predictable and standard. There’s a cheerful scene in the opening credits, interspersed with close-up shots related to the villains of the story. Then there’s an outdoor scene where another festive event, a school science fair, takes place. There are shots of Sean Mullen, Tom and Kate’s son, as a mysterious man approaches. Then the man and the boy vanish from sight. Tom and Kate’s reaction to this is genuine, though also expected in a story like this.
Even as FBI agents enter the story, including Delroy Lindo as Agent Lonnie Hawkins, watching the movie was a matter of going through fairly familiar motions. There’s the series of phone calls from the kidnappers, the preparation of the money in suitcases, arrangements for the drop-off, and additional phone calls as Tom follows the instructions he is given. Even with some degree of excitement, the overall pacing here was somewhat slow.
Thankfully, the rest of the movie made up for this pace. Tom Mullen decides to turn the tables on the kidnappers. He attempts an interesting but very foolish and risky method to get his son back. I won’t say what it is, but it was something I didn’t expect. How the kidnappers react to this may also surprise you. And just when you think it’s over, there’s more. The finale is an intense sequence that is no doubt the payoff for sitting through a somewhat slow plot.
I would have given Ransom a 6/10 rating, but with a change of heart near the end, I decided a 7/10 would be more appropriate. Obviously, getting the full experience of the movie requires some patience. Otherwise, you wouldn’t bother waiting to see how it ends. Overall, I thank Ron Howard for directing a nice picture, Mel Gibson and Rene Russo for their performances as two distraught parents, and, before I forget to mention, Gary Sinise as the sinister kidnapping mastermind. The movie Ransom was certainly worth the price of admission.
Anthony’s Rating: 7/10