Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ransom (1996)

Synopsis: It’s essentially  two hours of Mel Gibson screaming at Gary Sinise over the telephone, Rene Russo screaming at Gibson, Sinise and the other kidnappers screaming at each other, and a few scenes of Gibson running through heavy traffic, and around a junkyard  screaming: “where’s my son?!?” 
Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “In the action-thriller movie event of the year, superstar Mel Gibson (Braveheart) is Tom Mullen, a wealthy executive, whose charmed life is suddenly shattered when his young son is abducted and held for ransom by a gang of ruthless criminals!” 
What Did I Learn?: 1) Everybody pays the ransom, and the FBI enjoys a track record of 7 out of 10 kidnapped children safely returned to their parents. 2) If you’re going to make an anonymous phone call in order to ask for a ransom, don’t use any of your favourite expressions. 
Really?: 1) Holy shit, I realize Mullen (Gibson) wants to get his son back, but why would he tell Agent Hawkins (Delroy Linda) that he’s truly guilty of bribery, and that he pulled the wool over the eyes of the FBI? What’s the point of giving himself five years in the federal slammer whether or not the boy is returned? 2) Hey, isn’t it illegal to place a bounty on somebody’s head? Wouldn’t Tom face some pretty serious legal issues - maybe even arrest - after his TV appearance? 3) This movie is just over two hours long. Was it really necessary to include that scene of Kate (Russo) and Shaker (Sinise) in the church, or Dan Hedaya’s wildly over-the-top cameo appearance as Jackie Brown? 4) So, Tom Mullen is a billionaire airline magnate, yet he and his family travel around New York City without any security? 5) Honestly, I’m not sure what to think of the last 20 minutes of this film. For starters, it’s extremely fortunate that Hawkins not only picks up the phone when Tom calls, and then he precisely understands the message Tom wants to convey. Soon afterwards, Shaker announces that if anything funny occurs in the bank, he’ll disappear and exact his revenge when Tom least expects it. What kind of a threat is that? If anything funny happens, Shaker will be a wanted man, and Tom is wealthy enough to rent the Delta Force to protect his family. 
Rating: I have to give Ransom a bit of a mixed review. Overall, it’s a compelling thriller with a great plot twist: Mullen realizes Shaker has no intention of returning the kidnapped boy, so he turns the ransom money into a bounty, thereby setting up a memorable phone call where the two men attempt to intimidate each other. Unfortunately, the film is far too long, marred by a questionable third act, and too joyless and melodramatic for my taste (see: “Synopsis” and “Really?”). 6.5/10 stars.

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