Cast: Gail (Meryl Streep), Tom (David Strathairn), Roarke (Joseph Mazzello), Wade (Kevin Bacon), Terry (John C. Reilly), Ranger Johnny (Benjamin Bratt)
Director: Curtis Hanson
Theatrical release: 09/30/1994 DVD Date: 12/10/1997
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 112 minutes
Note(s): Original screenplay written by Denis O'Neill.
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Review: Every now and again Universal — and maybe other studios — uploads trailers from older films to their YouTube channel. One such film caught my eye, The River Wild, so I ordered a copy from Netflix to watch.
The film stars Meryl Streep as Gail Hartman, a former white water river guide, now married with children in Boston. On vacation to her childhood home in Montana, she wants to re-experience the thrill of the river with her husband and oldest child, the youngest one staying with her parents. As they prepare to get started, they meet up with a group of three men, who are also planning on rafting down the river. Gail's son Roarke immediately bonds with one of the men, Wade (Kevin Bacon), who he sees as being more "fun" than his button-down father. The two groups meet up later, when Wade flags down Gail, requesting assistance; his guide has disappeared and he needs an expert to help him and his partner to the take-out site downriver.
The River Wild is a very watchable action/adventure film that moves along fairly briskly after the obligatory "trouble on the home front" setup. There's not much suspense in the storyline, which isn't all that original in the first place, but the screenplay isn't the point of the film anyway. This is really the Meryl Streep/Kevin Bacon show and both are effective in their respective roles if occasionally a little exaggerated in their performances.
A somewhat unusual quirk of the film is that action scenes — which is the point of the film — will abruptly end and cut to a quiet scene that takes place minutes after the conclusion of what was just seen. It's more than a little jarring at times. Still, the white water action sequences are extremely well shot and worth the price of admission, as it were.
Fans of either Streep or Bacon, who haven't yet seen this film, will want to do so as it expands upon the actors' already extensive body of work. For everyone else offers pure escapist entertainment and there's nothing wrong with that.