Its like Funny Games, on the river.
What was already a turbulent family vacation turns deadly when a fugitive (Kevin Bacon) and his crew kidnap river rafting guide Gail (Meryl Streep), her husband Tom (David Strathairn) and their son in this thriller from Curtis Hanson. As they steer toward a series of dangerous rapids, the criminals force Gail to abandon Tom, who immediately embarks on a courageous mission to save his family.
So the film starts out as any typical hostage film. People meet, its all nice and fun, then shit gets crazy. The one thing that most of these suspense thrillers, is a deal of suspense. However, this had one scene of that, and then after that one scene, was totally lost. The film’s writing is not so good, and where it could have most definably succeeded in being witty, and suspenseful, the film goes for the predictable mark.
I mean the film is PG-13, so I don’t think that much grizzly killing would be going on, but at least excite me with something rather than these people getting held hostage, and going down a river. Like in all honesty, find something to spice up the story!
The film does work in some ways though. I liked how the setting of the film looked. This forest actually almost has a life of its own, because the film tries to make it seem like all these people are totally secluded from the world outside, and the film does that very well, by showing the good and the bad of the forest.
Another reason the film works is also because of the performances, mostly Streep and Bacon. Streep plays her role of a former river guide turned wife and mother, so well and so believable that I actually did stand behind her a lot of the times, cause she was smart, tough, and overall believable. Bacon also is very good here starting off as this ridiculously creepy, inappropriate dude, and then totally switches the other gear when he is scary and sadistic, actually making me hate him. Which in film, is a good thing.
Consensus: Though its good to look at and well acted, The River Wild suffers from an incredibly predictable, and badly written screenplay, that has so many stupid scenes, it all just seems pretty dumb.