Ron Howard’s kidnap/revenge thriller Ransom is a curious case of over-plotting. This is a good movie that continually tries to thwart itself. The story twists come fast and the tension is palpable, but the whole film could use a twenty-minute trim. Heavyweight acting from the leads and effective use of locations add to the uneasy atmosphere.
Mel Gibson plays 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 murderous criminals. After a botched money exchange with the perpetrators, Mullen defies the F.B.I. agents working the case and takes matters into his own hands. He goes on live network television and turns the tables on the kidnappers, offering a bounty for their lives, a stunning move that is Mullen’s last-ditch effort to rescue his son.
Ransom has some clever moments. I especially liked a monologue that Gary Sinise delivers about the movie The Time Machine, but a messy sub-plot involving a union pay-off are unnecessary and sag the film during its second act. As the screenplay works through its paces, the writing snags on an ending that feels like the product of an eleventh hour re-write. It’s as if the producers assumed that if Mel Gibson is in the cast he should take on the captors man-to-man. It’s an extremely unsatisfying conclusion to a fairly taunt story.
Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Delroy Lindo