Again I went for something slightly above my set ‘trashy action movie’ criteria. But, even though it is the work of a high-profile director (Ron Howard) and stars ex-‘superstar’ Mel Gibson, ‘Ransom’ had never made it onto my radar.
Gibson plays high flying business man, Tom Mullen, whose son is soon kidnapped by a bunch of criminals asking for $2 million. They know about a certain skeleton in Tom’s closet and are certain it’ll be easy money.
Tom gets the FBI on the case but learns that traditional methods aren’t going to get his son back, forcing him to take matters into his own hands.
Now, if you ask me, that is a perfect set-up for a brutal revenge movie, with Gibson getting the chance to crack some skulls on the way to saving his child; something akin to ‘Taken’. This opportunity is wasted, however, and what we’re left with is something more dull, but possibly more interesting.
This approach gives the filmmaker time to ask questions about society (who are the real scumbags: the poor committing crimes to get a better life for those they love or the elite feeding off the members of society too weak or poor to do anything about it?). Such questions are thought-provoking and it’s important that they be asked, but the film never really seems to form its arguments. It’s as if the studio heads were too scared to have the film say something with any conviction. Leaving the audience to answer any moral questions for themselves is all well and good but not if you are going to leave key elements feeling glossed-over and unsubstantial.
Such glossing over also softens the blow emotionally. Scenes that should have had me laughing/crying/cheering/booing instead left me cold and feeling uninvolved.
Not to say it isn’t well done; Howard supplies solid and, at times, stylish direction and the majority of the cast are fine (though it doesn’t help that any emotional engagement relies on fearing for the safety of a dumb kid). But it all feels disappointing.
Ransom had the chance to be an excellent revenge thriller but instead half-heartedly went for something ‘thought-provoking’ . . . . . and far more boring.