Ransom (Special Edition)


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Rating: R

Mel Gibson as Tom Mullen
Rene Russo as Kate Mullen
Brawley Nolte as Sean Mullen
Gary Sinise as Det. Jimmy Shaker
Delroy Lindo as Agent Lonnie Hawkins
Lili Taylor as Maris Conner
Liev Schreiber as Clark Barnes
Donnie Wahlberg as Cubby Barnes
Evan Handler as Miles Roberts
Nancy Ticotin as Agent Kimba Welch
Michael Gaston as Agent Jack Sickler
Kevin Neil McCready as Agent Paul Rhodes
Paul Guilfoyle as Wallace
Allen Bernstein as Bob Stone
José Zúñiga as David Torres

Special Features:
Commentary by director Ron Howard

Four deleted scenes

“What Would You Do?” new making-of featurette

“Between Takes” featurette

International Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 121 Minutes

This is the special edition of the 1996 film “Ransom” from director Ron Howard.

Tom Mullen is a successful businessman who seems to have it all. He’s rich and has a beautiful wife, Kate, and a young son, Sean. However, his world is turned upside-down when Sean is kidnapped by a crooked cop, Det. Jimmy Shaker, and a gang of co-conspirators. As Tom and Kate deal with the shock of their loss, they call in the FBI led by Agent Lonnie Hawkins for help. They soon get a ransom demand from the kidnappers.

Shaker makes Tom jump through a series of agonizing hoops to get his son back, but things are repeatedly botched. Tom eventually makes a bold decision. Believing they have no intention of returning the boy alive, Tom refuses to give the kidnappers the money. Instead, he makes it a $2 million bounty on the kidnappers’ heads. Both the FBI and Kate believe Tom has made an error that will cost them their son’s life, but what will really happen when the pressure is put on Shaker and his crew?

Ransom is rated R for graphic, bloody violence and strong language.

The Movie:
Eight years after its initial release, Ransom returns to DVD in this special edition. Watching it for the first time after a number of years, the film is still just as intense as it ever was. Ron Howard does a fine job building suspense and capturing the fine performances of Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Delroy Lindo, and Gary Sinse. Ransom is a truly disturbing movie. I saw it before I had kids, yet it is even more disturbing now that I have kids of my own. It’s the fear of every parent to have their child kidnapped. Having run through the scenario in my own mind, my own imagination comes up with more horrible visions than what Ron Howard shows, but that doesn’t make it any less gut wrenching and scary.

Ron Howard does a good job of telling both sides of the story. He shows what the FBI, Tom, and Kate are going through while at the same time showing what Shaker and his gang are going through. The film takes quite a dramatic turn when Tom puts the bounty on their heads. It’s quite a bold move and one that draws very differing views from the characters and audiences. I’ve wondered what would happen if someone did that in real life, but somehow I doubt it would have the same Hollywood ending that Ransom does. Still, it’s quite satisfying to see Mel fight the bad guys. And despite showing everything that’s happening on both sides of the fence, Ron Howard is still able to offer up some dramatic twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Mel Gibson is the master at playing the tortured soul and he demonstrates it yet again in Ransom. His vein popping line, “Give me back my son!” is still a memorable movie moment to this day. His heart wrenching lines are complimented well by Rene Russo’s performance. She’s doubly helpless as Sean’s mother. Not only is her son gone but her husband ignores her, possibly placing the boy in even more jeopardy. Their crying scenes are pretty hard to watch. Playing against them is Gary Sinise as Det. Jimmy Shaker. He’s a memorable bad guy who you’ll love to hate. The fact that he’s a cop makes him even more despicable. Rounding out the cast are strong performances by Delroy Lindo, Lili Taylor, Liev Schreiber and even Donnie Wahlberg in an early role.

Overall, Ransom is a first rate crime drama. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, but be warned that many of the scenes are emotional and tough to watch.

The Extras:
There are a few extras included on this DVD and they are what make it a “special edition”:

Commentary by director Ron Howard – Ron Howard delivers an interesting commentary talking about the plot (he had originally been working on his own kidnapping script when Ransom came to him), the actors (he went to high school with Rene Russo), and Mel (yes, he played jokes on the set). Howard keeps the discussion going most of the time and generally has something worthwhile to say. Film students may be particularly interested in what he has to say on filming the movie.

Four deleted scenes – There are four very brief deleted scenes included on this DVD. One shows Delroy Lindo talking about Tom’s airline. Another scene shows Lili Taylor’s character talking about how she wants out of the kidnapping plot. Another scene emphasizes the pressure on Lindo’s character by FBI upper management. As you can see, the deleted scenes are rather benign and don’t add much to the story.

“What Would You Do?” new making-of featurette – This is your standard “making of” video talking about the plot, the cast, crew, etc.

“Between Takes” featurette – This is the most fun of the DVD extras. It shows Ron Howard, Mel Gibson, and Rene Russo clowning around between shots. It looks like it was a fun movie to work on and it’s a candid look at what these folks are really like when the main cameras aren’t rolling.

The Bottom Line:
Ransom is a classic Ron Howard thriller. It’s well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it before, but the “special edition” extras don’t make it worth replacing older copies.