I first saw The River Wild more recently than most of the films on my list, and it’s one of those movies that surprised me as being much better than I expected. Meryl Streep gives a less acclaimed but no less brilliant performance as distressed mother Gail, who matches wits, if not muscle, with two violent thieves. (Plus, she had to learn sign language and rafting skills and did most of her own stunts.) Kevin Bacon is equally well-cast in a villainous role, and both earned Golden Globe nominations for their roles. Though he doesn’t actually carry out a violent act until near the end, he gives every indication that he would not hesitate in the slightest. He may not be the most memorable of villains, but he is bad. Just imagine if he had superpowers or something (see X-Men: First Class). John C. Reilly as Terry and Joseph Mazzello (Jurassic Park) as Roarke also fill their roles well, and this is now the fourth David Strathairn (Tom) film on my list; you’ll see him again.
The Montana/Oregon scenery is really spectacular, and, aside from the tension Wade brings to the party, the rafting scenes are true highlights, particularly the final running of the Gauntlet. Having gone rafting with my dad down the Nantahala River in North Carolina, I know how thrilling it can be, and this film gives a taste of it for those who perhaps haven’t experienced it themselves.
Many criticized the film for its predictability and lack of credibility, such as when Tom outruns the raft down the rushing river, and, while these complaints have some credence, it doesn’t detract from the movie as a whole. It’s an entertaining ride that rushes along nicely and even manages a laudable endorsement of sticking with a difficult marriage early on.
Best line: (Gail, to Roarke at the beginning of the trip) “You’re gonna scream your guts out, you’ll be so happy.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 8 Visual Effects: 8 Originality: 5 Watchability: 7 Other (some language): -3 TOTAL: 38 out of 60
Next: #234 – The Artist
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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