There’s a few things going on here with this movie. First off, it’s got Mel Gibson in it. Despite all the people saying how bad of a person he is or whatever, this man is one of the greatest actors of all time. (Aren’t we all bad people in some way or another? Your attitude on a particular day doesn’t mean the picture you drew suddenly becomes ugly, does it?) The way he shows such a wide range of emotion in his eyes and facial expressions is unparalleled. Not only is he incredible with charging a scene with extreme intensity, he’s also really funny (see Maverick and the Lethal Weapon franchise).
Secondly, this movie is directed by a guy named Ron Howard. My dad claims he used to coach him in Little League and they called him Opie, the name of his character in the Andy Griffith Show, a show that even I’m too young to remember. Ron Howard has made some really good films which you’ll be watching with me soon enough, like Apollo 13 and Cinderella Man. His movies tend to be on the lighter side, but this is easily his darkest movie to date.
My parents took me to see this when I was 12. I don’t know how I didn’t have nightmares from seeing the boy handcuffed to the bed and crying out for food in the spare room of a dumpy home crawling with criminals who want to kill him.
But this quickly became one of my favorite crime movies of all time. This movie takes about 12 minutes to set up, then from there all the way to the final frame, it doesn’t slow down for even a fraction of a second. It runs on all cylinders like a vehicle without brakes, but driven expertly by a skilled driver.
What’s it about? Simply put: a father (Mel Gibson) is just trying to get his kidnapped son back. Dad tip: If you can sum up an action movie in one sentence like that, it usually means it’s going to be good.
And the bad guy – I don’t want to give away who it is, because the reveal is too juicy and mind-blowing, but he is creepy as hell! You know when I just randomly stare off into space with wide, uncaring eyes, just to get someone’s attention? I’m imitating the bad guy in this movie. He is so good – as a bad guy.
In every movie Mel Gibson was in from 1987 to 2000, he’s at the top of his game, but this just might be his ultimate best, because I feel his frustration and his pain and fear. He’s not a super cop here – he’s just a scared dad trying to get his son back.
It’s how I would react if one of you were kidnapped. I’d do anything – ANYTHING – to get you back. Kind of like God, when Satan kidnapps us, or leads us into a lifestyle of sin (I’ve been there a lot, unfortunately). I believe God is always working on our behalf. We may not feel like it. We may feel like Sean, the kid in this movie, tied up, starving, blindfolded, forgotten. But does his dad ever stop fighting for him? Does his mom ever stop worrying? No. Nothing matters to them but getting Sean back. Nothing matters to God but you coming back to him so that he can forgive you for whatever you might have done, and he can restore you and comfort you, and build you back up to who you were meant to be.
I’m not going to give this movie away, and you better not do any research beyond this before seeing it, because the constant twists and turns are what make the experience so enjoyable. I’ve seen this movie maybe 15 times, and I still found myself holding my breath for a lot of it when I watched it the other night.
I consider this a very near perfect movie except for a brief moment when Mel Gibson suddenly turns into an action hero at the end. But the final fight is really short, which I enjoy, because even in the best action movie, I don’t particularly enjoy drawn-out end fight scenes.
This movie is perfect in casting, acting, scripting, directing, everything. Even James Newton Howard’s score, though subtle, is very enjoyable and sticks with you. And I tried to find flaws, but couldn’t. There’s a loophole here and there, but nothing to bemoan. I especially love that Gibson’s character is sketchy and imperfect. In another story about his life, he would have been the bad guy. Ransom is layered, but simple. Suspenseful, yet grounded.
I saw this when I was 12 years old. I didn’t know Mel Gibson by name then, but I remember recognizing his talent, and being riveted by the entire movie. This movie is pretty rough with its treatment of the 12 year old boy, and there’s a lot more blood than I remembered, but honestly kids, I might let you watch this with me when you’re 13. Your mom would probably say 16 or 18. So maybe we can send her to Florida when you’re 14 and we can watch it together then.
I give Ransom a perfect 5. It’s easily one of my favorite movies of all time. Don’t miss this one.