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Drama - Crime

Ransom (1996)

Duration2h 1m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R, Spain: 18, France: 12
Source of storyDerived from a 1954 TV movie, which was repeated in 1955 and was followed by a film “Ransom!” starring Glen Ford in 1956.
DirectorRon Howard
Writers/ScriptRichard Price, Alexander Ignon (story Cyril Hume, Richard Maibaum)
StarringMel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise, Delroy Lindo, Lili Taylor, Liev Schreiber, Donnie Wahlberg,  Paul Guilfoyle, 
RatingsIMDb: 6.7 by 117,114 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 75% by 72 reviewers.

Elevator Pitch: A gang of kidnappers led by a renegade police detective kidnap the ten year old son of Tom Mullen, the wealthy owner of an airline and demand $2,000,000 in ransom. At his wife’s insistence Mullen contacts the FBI who set up their tracing system in the Mullen’s luxury New York penthouse, and attempt to monitor Mullen as he tries to pay the ransom, following complex instructions from the gang leader. It is unsuccessful the gang member who is to pick up the cash being killed by the police. Thereafter, against the advice of the police and his wife, Mullen turns the tables on the gang, offering a reward for anyone who can identify them. What will happen?

Content: No sex or nudity, some drinking, one of the gang apparently being alcoholic, also some drinks at a party. The FBI set-up in the penthouse is constantly in evidence and there is inference that Mullen has avoided being charged with some sort of illegal activity. He drives about in the city and the kidnappers instructions are suitably ingenious. The husband and wife shout at each other quite a bit. In the down at the heel apartment where the boy is held there is some tension and violence both between the kidnappers and to the boy.

A View: This film was made at a time when Mel Gibson was still in Lethal Weapon land, so this was a surprisingly restrained performance from him, but no worse for that. The fact that the film spends almost as much time with the villains so that we can see immediately the effect of the change of the focus of the reward money, which was pretty effective. So of the various kidnapping movies on this site, which can’t help but have many similarities, this one might be the best, almost certainly available as a watch for nothing somewhere.

Additional Info:  The estimated budget was $80 million. This is an absolute fortune for a 1996 film with no special effects and extremely limited sets. Maybe Mel’s wages! But it made money, $309 million worldwide.  

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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