The River Wild (1994)

Rating  12
Length 1hr 51
Release 24.2.1995
Director Curtis Hanson
About A couple embarks on a rafting holiday with their son. The trip, however, turns into a nightmare when they find themselves battling two violent criminals.


The Good

  • All the actors are perfectly cast in their roles and bring a decent energy to the proceedings. Kevin Bacon does his bad guy thing, Meryl Streep does her leading lady thing and Joe Mazzello does his thing of being the kid in danger with emotional baggage. 
  • The filming is able to present this somewhat difficult story is a decent way. You’re able to follow the plot, feel the tension and the danger without being too lost in the elements. I can’t imagine it was easy to create the variety of shots over river rapids but it certain has a good attempt.

The Bad

  • I hate the addition of the dog. While Maggie contributes some way in terms of the plot, I don’t think it’s enough to justify having her on a dangerous journey. Leave the poor thing with the grandparents.
  • Streep and Bacon’s flirting in front of uptight husband, played by David Stathairn is cringe-worthy and damaging to Streep’s character. That’s not to say I don’t think she wouldn’t flirt, I just felt uncomfortable watching her do it in front of her son and husband. It may have worked a little better had Strathairn’s character not have made it on time to catch the raft and is brought to them later in the day by Benjamin Bratt’s character.

The Ugly

  • The pacing is really off for me. While I did enjoy the opening scenes and it showed the dynamic of the Hartman family, I found the payoff wasn’t worth the effort it took. Did we need to have so many scenes prior to the family setting off?  
  • I found the ‘bad guys’ a little confusing in the sense that it felt so obvious, yet it felt like it was also meant to be a reveal. I’d have perhaps liked to have seen either the conversation between Gail and her Father about his predictions for the robbery or even see the robbery itself. It was rather sloppy and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few cut scenes out there that develop that arc a little further.

Final Thoughts

It’s a decent film, but very much of its time. No fault to the performances, but the screenplay feels a little lacking. Still, I’d take this over Hard Rain any day. Plus, Baby Mozzello fresh out of Jurassic Park. You can’t say no to that.

Have you seen The River Wild? What did you think?

Love Han x

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