MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2 1/2

Self-made millionaire Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) is leading a charmed life, with a loving wife, young son and a hugely successful airline business. But his world is turned upside down when, during an event in New York's Central Park, his seven-year-old son Sean (Brawley Nolte) is kidnapped. Soon Tom and wife Kate (Rene Russo) receive ransom demands via an audio enhanced e-mail message $2 million to ensure Sean's safe return. Tom intends to pay, but he still calls the FBI, even though he has been investigated in recent months because of shady dealings with union officials. The first payoff attempt goes horribly wrong, however, as FBI agents move too soon. The kidnappers are also led by crooked cop Jimmy Shaker (Gary Sinise) who knows law enforcement procedures and can anticipate their moves. Tom suspects, and the audience knows, that the kidnappers have no intention of releasing his son. So he turns the tables, refusing to pay their price and instead offering the $2 million as a reward to anyone who turns in the kidnappers. Although his wife and FBI agent Lonnie Hawkins (Delroy Lindo) question this strategy, Tom refuses to cave in to his tormentors. Ransom has plenty of thrills and tension, along with superbly expressive performances by both Gibson and Sinise. The story also has an interesting and unexpected twist at the end that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Emotions run high on both sides of this story, manifesting itself in unfortunate problems with language. Crude and obscene words are prevalent throughout the film, particularly in conversations between Tom and Jimmy as stress builds during the grueling ordeal. Several characters express their excitement and frustration with regular profanities. Violence escalates gradually, beginning when two men are shot and killed during the botched ransom drop. When his cohorts begin to question his methods, Jimmy uses brutal blows to bring them back in line. As the kidnapping plot falls apart, there are several bloody shootings, and when two characters crash through a window one emerges with a cut to his throat that gushes blood. These violent scenes could have been toned down and remained effective. It's also a shame that the film-makers elected to use so much offensive language to convey the emotions of the characters.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. (Touchstone Pictures), 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 9

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (37) times Mild 15, Moderate 22

Obscene Language: Many (82) times (f-word 52, s-word 26, other 4)

Profanity: Many (34) timesRegular 24 (G-d 12, JC 5, J 3, for Christ's sake 2, C 1, G 1), Exclamatory 10

Violence: Many times Moderate and Severe (assaults and fisticuffs, gunfire, multiple shootings with bloody wounds, men crash through window, gushing blood from wound)

Sex: None

Nudity: Once, brief rear male nudity

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Alcohol drinking, smoking

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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