If you aren't excessively troubled by watching the ordeal of a kidnapped child, and if you accept a great deal of spilled blood as a contemporary given, then you will be amply rewarded by the considerable pluses of this movie.

RANSOM

A Nebbadoon review by Joan Ellis.


If you aren't excessively troubled by watching the ordeal of a kidnapped child, and if you accept a great deal of spilled blood as a contemporary given, then you will be amply rewarded by the considerable pluses of "Ransom."

Tom and Kate Mullen (Mel Gibson and Rene Russo) are the devoted parents of Sean. Director Ron Howard spares us the trite possibility of parents who don't appreciate what they have till they've lost it. Tom and Kate may be rich and famous, but they love their son, and that fact lends depth to their emotional whipsawing.

With a flair for marketing his company and himself, Tom has built Endeavor Airlines into the nation's fourth largest carrier. He and Kate share a lively taste for New York celebrity life and float easily through the world of museum benefits, ranking restaurants, and A-list parties.

Out there in the gritty streets that have no glitter, a resentful cop named Jimmy Shaker (Gary Sinise) is seething at the comfortable success of the Mullens' lives. He hates them for being able to buy their way to the good life while he is trapped in the dingy world of convenience stores and laundromats. Knowing that Tom once paid a union bribe to protect his airline, Jimmy is certain he will pay to save his child.

The rest of the movie is a chess game. From a grubby apartment equipped with cell phone and laptop, Jimmy, with enough inside knowledge of the police game to foil the FBI, delivers orders to Tom. From his glossy, art-lined luxury spread overlooking Central Park, Tom responds with his innate entrepreneurial skills, which surface even in tragedy. Turning two million dollars from ransom to a bounty on the kidnapper's head, Tom takes the risk that may be the only, if remote, possibility of Sean's safe return.

The movie is full of sharp turns and surprises that escalate toward a breathless final half-hour that works because of five very sure performances. Mel Gibson and Rene Russo are believably anguished and do good work in endless close-up shots that depend entirely on conveying rage and fear through expression. Gary Sinise, who can endow a hero with humanity and a villain with meanness, is excellent as the tormented cop crippled by his own poison. Brawley Nolte is commendably restrained as Sean, and Delroy Lindo is strong as the lead FBI agent.

What then is the problem? Perhaps that, for a lot of people, the mere thought of a kidnapped child is unbearable, to say nothing of dwelling on it voluntarily for two hours. And there's the chilling, quite ugly feeling of sitting in an audience that is cheering bloody mayhem and rooting for revenge. For at least one viewer, it's this: in a world where terrorist threats so often turn real, kidnapping, the White House, and the Lincoln Tunnel are subjects best left untouched by high-profile movies.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 498
Studio : Touchstone PIctures
Rating : R
Running Time: 2h


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