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Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 3, 2012 by  



As for “Ransom”, as thrilling as the film was back in 1996, the film is just as exciting in 2012!  Ron Howard does an amazing job as director, the acting performance by Mel Gibson, Rene Russo and Gary Sinise is fantastic and for fans of the film, this is probably the definitive version to own of the film right now.  Overall, if you are looking for an awesome crime thriller, “Ransom” is one of the best ransom films made in America and worth owning on Blu!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1996

DURATION: 121 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: R

Release Date: June 5, 2012

Directed by Ron Howard

Story by Cyril Hume, Richard Maibaum

Screenplay by Richard Price, Alexander Ignon

Produced by Brian Grazer, Kip Hagopian, Scott Rudin

Co-Produced by Susan Merzbach, Adam Schroeder

Associate Producer: Aldric La’auli Porter, LouisaVelis

Executive Producer: Todd Hallowell

Muisc by James Horner

Cinematography by Piotr Sobocinski

Edited by Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill

Casting by Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins

Production Design by Michael Corenblith

Art Direction by John Kasarda

Set Decoration by Susan Bode

Costume Design by Rita Ryack

Starring:

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

Tom Mullen is the epitome of the American dream; rich and successful with a wife and kid. His seemingly perfect life is turned upside-down when his son, Sean, is kidnapped for ransom. Mullen tries to handle this the police’s way but decides to take matters into his own hands in order to save his son. An action filled remake starring an Oscar power cast and crew with actors Mel Gibson (Best Director, Braveheart, 1995), Gary Sinise (Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Forrest Gump, 1994), Academy Award winning producer Brian Grazer (Best Picture, A Beautiful Mind, 2001) and Academy Award winning director Ron Howard (Best Director, A Beautiful Mind, 2001).

How far would you go to get your son back if he was held for ransom?

From director Ron Howard (“Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “The Da Vinci Code”, “Frost/Nixon”), “Ransom” is a crime thriller featuring an all-star cast which includes Mel Gibson (“Braveheart”, “Signs”, “Lethal Weapon”, “The Patriot”), Rene Russo (“Lethal Weapon” films, “Outbreak”), Delroy Lindo (“The Cider House Rules”, “Broken Arrow”, “The One”), Gary Sinise (“Apollo 13”, “Mission to Mars”), Liev Schrieber (“Defiance”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “Salt”), Donnie Wahlberg (“The Sixth Sense”, “Blue Bloods”), Lili Taylor (“Say Anything”, “High Fidelity”) and Evan Handler (“Sex and the City”, “Californication”).

Based on an idea from a story of an episode of “The United States Steel Hour” (from 1954), “Ransom” was released in theaters in 1996 and was a box office success earning over $309 million.

The film revolves around a multimillionaire named Tom Mullen (as portrayed by Mel Gibson), an owner of an airline.  Despite his success, his family has been investigated by the FBI of bribery but there is no proof that Tom was involved in any crime.

One day, while at a science fair with his wife Kate (as portrayed by Rene Russo) and his young son, Sean (as portrayed by Brawley Nolte).  But during the fair, Sean is kidnapped by a group of people, led by Det. James “Jimmy” Shaker (as portrayed by Gary Sinise).

Shaker and the kidnappers send a video via e-mail to the Mullen family of Sean handcuffed to a bed with duct tape on his mouth and demand a $2,000,000 ransom and not to call police.  So, the Mullens contact the FBI which a group led by Special Agent Lonnie Hawkins (as portrayed by Delroy Lindo) hope to get information or tap the phones to find the location of the kidnappers.

Tom thinks that the person responsible for the kidnapping is related to the bribery and tells Hawkins that he is responsible for the bribe and the wrong man was sent to jail.  And perhaps that man has taken his son for revenge.  But as Hawkins arranges for Mullen to meet with the incarcerated man, the man is upset that not only did Mullen put him an innocent man in jail, he would accuse him of kidnapping, when he would die for his own children.

Meanwhile the kidnappers are on edge.  Maris Conner (as portrayed by Lily Taylor) is becoming frustrated towards Cubby Carnes (as potrayed by Donnie Wahlberg), because Wahlberg is feeding and talking to Sean.  As Cubby’s brother, Clark (As portrayed by Liev Schreiber), tries to lessen the tension between the group, Det. James Shaker becomes more aggravated when he catches Cubby buying children’s cereal at the store.

The group begin to argue of whether or not to kill Sean once the ransom has been delivered, but Cubby who wants to keep a child alive, tells his brother that he will not give the money to Shaker unless the boy is released.

As a rendezvous point is made for Tom Mullen to meet with Cubby Barnes to give up the ransom money and secure his son’s release, the FBI botches the meeting and kills their only lead.  With the kidnappers now angered by what had taken place, will the Mullen’s ever see their son again?  Or will the kidnappers kill Sean as retaliation?

VIDEO:

“Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).    Video quality is very good as close-ups showcase the detail on the character’s faces to their clothing.  Skin tones are natural, black levels and deep but the film looks like it has been cleaned up via slight DNR (which is probably going to be the case for a lot of studios in 2012, as most casual viewers have voiced their opinion against grain, versus the videophiles who prefer it).  But compared to the original LD and DVD versions, this is the best version of I have seen of “Ransom” by far.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Frenh 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital.  Lossless audio is what I was expecting for this older film.  While there are scenes that utilize the surround channels during the more action-intense scenes towards the final arc of the film, the film is primarily front and center-channel driven due to the film being dialogue driven.  Ambiance could have been utilized much more, especially with scenes involving crowds but overall, the lossless soundtrack was good but could have been much better.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition” features the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (3:53) Featuring four deleted scenes.
  • What Would You Do? – (13:16) Featuring interviews with Ron Howard, editor Dan Hanley and the cast and crew of “Ransom”.
  • Between Takes – (4:00) Ron Howard, Rene Russo and Mel Gibson having fun between takes.
  • International Theatrical Trailer – (1:06) The international theatrical trailer for “Ransom”.

Back in 1996, with the success of “Braveheart”, seeing the reunion of “Lethal Weapon” stars Mel Gibson and Rene Russo, was pretty exciting.

And as these two talents were becoming big stars at the time, so was the career of filmmaker Ron Howard.  As a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Happy Days”, I’ve supported Ron Howard’s filmmaking career by watching most of the films he had directed, so suffice to say, I had high hopes when I watched this film in the theater.

And at the time, I loved the film.  Enjoyed it so much that I would purchase the extended edition on LaserDisc and also the DVD.

Here were in 2012, 15-years-later and “Ransom” (the theatrical edition, not the extended version) makes its debut in HD via Blu-ray.  And while ransom films usually do well in theaters such as the more recent films such as “Taken”, “Munich” “Inside Job” or “Firewall” or a classic ransom film such as Akira Kurosawa’s “High and Low”, “Ransom” does have its place as one of the memorable ransom films out there.

Mel Gibson and Rene Russo play two parents who are taken through a  degrees of emotions as they try to save their son, but with each mistake, they feel that they are more closer to losing him and getting their own son killed.  Both have amazing chemistry and both feed off each other’s emotions.  Mel Gibson’s Tom Mullen is a man full of anguish, a man that wants to be a ban and not give in to the kidnappers demands but is powerless, Rene Russo is the wife, Kate, who is pushed to the brink that we see her emotions start to turn its back on her husband.

These are emotions that many past ransom films do not tend to emphasize.    A lot of tears, a lot of confrontational arguments and plenty of frustration, it’s what I want to see in a ransom film.  True raw emotion of despair of one trying to get a family member or a child back from kidnappers.  And both Mel Gibson and Rene Russo are effective.

And on the opposite end, Gary Sinise can always play a villain.  In this case, a detective who knows the law, but is also the leader of this kidnapping group.  He is remorseful, he is deadly and he will not hesitate in killing the young Sean.

We do get to see a little Mel Gibson bravado in this film, as most people are so used to seeing him in action roles back in the ’90s but for the most part, director Ron Howard is able to keep a balance between emotional drama and action that even 15-years-later, this film holds up quite well.

While the Blu-ray release of “Ransom” features the film in HD and with a lossless soundtrack, slight DNR was used but as mentioned, this is the state of Blu-rays in 2012, as some studios are now trying to find a medium to appease the videophile who want grain or the casual masses who have shown their disdain towards seeing grain on films in HD.  As for the special features, these are the same special features from the DVD release.

As for “Ransom”, as thrilling as the film was back in 1996, the film is just as exciting in 2012!  Ron Howard does an amazing job as director, the acting performance by Mel Gibson, Rene Russo and Gary Sinise is fantastic and for fans of the film, this is probably the definitive version to own of the film right now.

Overall, if you are looking for an awesome crime thriller, “Ransom” is one of the best ransom films made in America and worth owning on Blu!






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