Ossus Library Index Action Movie Index


Directed by Ron Howard (1996, Touchstone Pictures)
Starring Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, and Gary Sinese

The son of a wealthy man is kidnapped and held for ransom. Part of the ransom deal goes wrong.

View Count: Twice



4 stars

November 13th, 1999 on TV

    My, that was intense!  Even the second time around, the movie left me full of suspenseful chills throughout.  Barely any time was left for a breather!

When the son gets kidnapped, the scenes are very strong, with Gibson's character watching the radio-controlled glider as it seems to go out of control.  It is a good parallel for the fear that takes the couple.  As the ransom note is delivered, you see how much of a family man he is, because the suitcases of money are there almost immediately.

But the ransomers put the father through too much in delivering the ransom.  They would have been better off if they had picked something simpler.  But then they probably would have been caught by the FBI.  But the father's character is right on when he sees the face of the man picking up the money:  the guy knows nothing about returning his kid. 

So on a feeling, he knows the kidnappers don't intend to keep his kid alive.  A completely insane takeover comes next, with the ransom money turning into a bounty.  After the father has gone that far, there is no turning back.  You can sympathize with him, but also feel the pain of his wife.  It is completely uncertain whether this puts the kid in more danger or not. 

I could see the end of the kidnapping coming from the moment the bounty was announced, but it took circumstances going way beyond control before it could realistically happen. 

But of course, it is not over yet.  The first time I saw this movie, I thought it should have ended about five minutes earlier.  I still believe that now.  I think Sinese's character should have died when he was in the middle of traffic.  As it is, he manages to get away, get pushed through a glass window, get up again, pull a gun, and is finally killed.  That's two lives too many, I think.  But I know it had to end in self defense.

The way Sinese's character was set up was really good.  The way he follows one of the kidnappers back to their lair, looks in on the tied up boy, then points his gun at the kidnapper.  But it's for a different reason than we think.  Really well done. 

The whole movie was well done.  Wow.  My muscles were so tense by the end of it.  That's the sign of a good action movie.  Especially when it happens the second time around, too.


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