When it comes to ramping up to vein-bursting levels of tormented anxiety, Mel Gibson has a kind of mainstream intensity that makes him perfect for his heroic-father role in director Ron Howard's child-kidnapping thriller. ... more » When you think of Ransom, you automatically think of the scene in which Mel reaches his boiling point and yells, "Give me back my son!" to the kidnapper on the other end of several torturous phone calls. Trapped in the middle of any parent's nightmare, Mel plays a self-made airline mogul whose son (played by Brawley Nolte, son of actor Nick Nolte) is abducted by a close-knit group of uptight kidnappers. But when a king's ransom is demanded for the child's safe return, Mel turns the tables and offers the ransom as reward money for anyone who provides information leading to the kidnappers' arrest. Thus begins a nerve-racking battle of wills and a test of the father's conviction to carry out a plan that could cost his son's life. The boy's mother (played by Rene Russo, reunited with Gibson after Lethal Weapon 3) disapproves of her husband's life-threatening gamble, and a seasoned FBI negotiator (Delroy Lindo) is equally fearful of disaster as the search for the kidnappers intensifies. Through it all, Howard maintains a level of nail-biting tension to match Gibson's desperate ploy, and the plot twists are just clever enough to cancel out the overwrought performances and manipulative screenplay. Ransom may not be as sophisticated as its glossy production design would suggest, but it's a thriller with above-average intelligence and an emotion-driven plot that couldn't be more urgent. Adding to the intensity is a superior supporting cast including Gary Sinise, Lili Taylor, and Liev Schreiber as the kidnappers, who demonstrate that even the tightest scheme can unravel under unexpected stress. Remade from a 1956 film starring Glenn Ford, Ransom is diluted by a few too many subplots, but as a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, it's a slick and satisfying example of Hollywood entertainment. --Jeff Shannon« less
bunkaroo | Chicago West Suburbs, IL United States | 03/20/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"While I think the movie is great, I thought everyone should be warned that this is the exact same non-anamorphic transfer as the previous release. Amazon's technical details are in error. The back is absent of any 16x9 markings. Popping the movie in confirmed this. Stay away if you're looking to upgrade from the first disc."
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 04/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"RANSOM is probably Ron Howard's most fully realized film to date. Howard helms a tense, literate script, without letting its potential maudlin come through. Mel Gibson, who has "ruined" his career with the 350 million dollar+ gross of THE PASSION OF CHRIST (Notice tongue in cheek, folks) shows us what a powerfully commanding actor he can be. His role as the tortured, yet committed, father is beautifully performed. Mel doesn't parlay his looks into establishing his popularity. The Australian is a very good actor, and in some ways, has never been recognized for the fact. Rene Russo is amazing, too. Starting off in a cool, I've got things under control aura, she melts into a desperate, crazed, and passionate woman who loves her husband dearly, but can't believe he's risking their son's life. Gary Sinise once again brings a mercurial sense of villainy to his role as the mastermind behind the kidnapping, and his coldhearted murders only enforce his psychosis; Delroy Lindo as the head FBI agent gives a sturdy, tense and compassionate portrayal; Lili Taylor is devastating to watch as she crumbles under the pressure of her part in the kidnapping, but her cold hearted willignness to kill the little boy is frightening; Liv Schrieber and Donnie Wahlberg as the brothers are convincing, in view of their relatively little time on screen.
I liked this film a lot because it touched my emotions in the way a thriller of this type should. Nail bitingly good, it's one of Gibson and Howard's best works."
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 07/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although this is actually a remake of a 1940s film in which the protagonist turns the tables unexpectedly on his child's kidnappers, this very well produced film directed by Ron Howard is quite contemporary and sophisticated. Mel Gibson shines as the controversial developer who has had shady dealings with union reps on his way to fantastic wealth, and is pursued unsuccessfully by the FBI even while they are suddenly called in to help on his son's kidnapping. When things go from bad to worst, Gibson takes control of the negotiation, and suddenly all hell breaks loose. This is an entertaining and quite suspenseful film, wth a terrific supporting cast that includes Rene Russo as Gibson's wife, Gary Senise as a duplicitous local cop, and Mark Wahlberg as one of the kidnappers. The plot takes some interesting twists and turns, and although it is nt predictable, all works out quite well in the end. Or does it. In order to see, you'll just have to watch this very well made suspense thriller for yourself. Enjoy!"
Game theory relevant film
Barron Laycock | 11/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Ransom" is one of the more intelligent movies I have ever seen. Apart from being a very well made thriller, it's thought provoking, too. In fact, "Ransom" is game theory relevant, because the strategies of the adversary, as I shall call him, and the father - can be analyzed from a game theoretic point of view, within "the game of ransom".Optimal mechanism design suggests that some strategies dominate others on the part of the father. If we generalize the setup of the game a little, we will see that any organization facing a similar danger can be analyzed within a simple mechanism design setup. Let's stick to the film case in what follows. Given the objectives of the adversary, the father maximizes his objective function by never giving up to the adversary's requests, and thus removing the lever of advantage the adversary has on him. The sole power of the adversary stems from the fact that he came into possession of the good or a person, which or who is of enormous value to the father - in this case, the father's offspring. By applying a "commitment technology", the father eliminates the adversary's advantage, and as long as he is able to stick to his wits and his strategy, i.e. have a credible commitment, also apparent to the adversary, the latter has little incentive to continue, since the mechanism of terror he planned, and counted for - stopped working.
It's obvious that having acquired the offspring, the adversary has no incentive to keep him alive regardless of achieving his monetary goal. In fact, getting rid of the offspring permanently dominates the strategy of fulfilling his promise, and giving the child back. If the father predicts the incentives of the adversary correctly, he knows his offspring will pass away irrespective of his action. Therefore no matter how difficult it is emotionally, how hard it is on the mother, he should assume that the offspring would pass away, if he follows the adversary's instructions. At this point, the equilibrium strategy emerges quite clearly. In any equilibrium of the " game", the father should never pay the adversary. Also, in any equilibrium of the "ransom game", the probability of the offspring passing away is one, unless the incentives of the adversary are removed by applying credible commitment on the part of the father with respect to the optimal strategy. The latter is to hunt down the adversary, and have him removed, devoting all resources to this end. Only in this way the offspring has the chance to live, as the adversary's best response to the father's strategy is to back off and return the offspring. This is true because returning the offspring as a strategy dominates the strategy of keeping him hidden, since no reward is to be expected, and the utility of being hunted by the whole world is less than the utility of returning the offspring AND trying another case, where the other father might not follow his optimal strategy."Ransom" is a very good film, very well made with respect to the traditional elements of a thriller - suspense, action, and credible screenplay. However, it's much more than that. It's a very conservative film in the sense that it praises following the rules of the game instead of emotions. What needs to be done is done, regardless. Almost identical motivational scheme could be used for justification of very harsh and rigorous law. I applaud Mel Gibson for creating a memorable role, and I applaud the screenplay writer and the director for offering us one of the most intelligent films that have ever been made. The fact that this film is also game theory relevant raises the rating."
Awesome suspense -- unusual plot.
Rebecca | Massachusetts, USA | 03/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie isn't like most Hollywood flicks about ransom, it's actually completely different! The entire cast and supporting cast does a surpurb acting job. RANSOM is about an extremely wealthy, multi-millionaire, Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson). Tom is an airline owner, and his top priority in life is his family that includes his wife, Kate Mullen (Rene Russo), and one son, Sean Mullen (Brawley Nolte). Soon, an enemy of Tom Mullen and his gang are after Tom's money. To get what they want, which is about a million dollars, they kidnapp Tom's son, Sean, while the family is at a district science fair in their hometown of New York City. Tom and Kate are so desparate to find Sean and bring him back home that they will do just about anything in their power to bring Sean back alive and safe. All throughout the film, the guy who kidnapps Sean (I forget his name), tries to give Tom clues on how he can get his son back and where he is. The ending of this film may surprise some people, because it's definitely not the usual ending of a Hollywood suspense film. A must-see for any Mel Gibson fan and is very well-worth watching even if you don't like Mel Gibson. I very much enjoyed it!"