I don't think this movie had the right effect on me.

I mean I liked it and all that, thought everyone did a good job and so forth, but I left the movie thinking "You know, if I were gonna kidnap a kid and ask for $2 million bucks, I'd do things a little differently."

The movie that inspired my criminal urge is, of course, the Mel Gibson/Ron Howard collaboration, Ransom. It's a story that, quite simply, is about a rich guy whose son is kidnapped and held up for ransom. I could go into more detail, but I don't want to spoil anything, I'll just let you watch the preview on TV and have it spoiled for you.

What is it with Disney and giving away everything about a movie in the trailer? Every movie they release, under which ever sub-corporation they choose, has the entire story told to you in a thirty-second TV ad released a month before the movie. If they were to release Star Wars today, they'd open the preview by telling you that Darth Vader is Luke's father. I mean, come on, it's Disney, we know what's going to happen before we see the title anyway, they don't need to release the movie. Hey, you know that upcoming 101 Dalmatians flick? I bet you a million dollars that none of the doggies get whacked.

Any takers?

Ransom, to it's credit, turns out to be a good flick despite giving away huge plot points in the print ads. Mel is largely heroic, doing his usual tortured soul in need bit. That's the great thing about Mel, he's always the same tortured soul in every film. Be it a life-in-the-gutter, nothing to lose cop (Lethal Weapon), a scarred teacher who hates mankind (Man w/o a Face), Scottish guy fighting for his country (Braveheart) or this movie's father of kidnapped kid. The look is the same, but we love it, cause we love Mel. The rest of the cast does fine jobs, Delroy Lindo and Gary Sinice (sp?) do great jobs with their parts, and Rene Russo is great in the limited bit-part tossed her way as Mel's wife. You know, she's a great actress, but this part was so underwritten, Traci Lords would have been fine. Plus we'd probably see more cleavage with Traci, and that's always good.

OK, warning. I'm sure you all think that this tale of child-abduction and torment is nice holiday kid fare. Well it's not. It's rather bloody at times. It's rated R, and it's means it. Some R movies are R movies out of principle, not this baby, it earns its R with a lot of gun-play, quite a bit of blood, and an ending straight out of the "Bruce Willis gets the crap beat out of him" Die Hard movies. There is, however, no sex. Like Mel and Rene could get it on with the son in the bad guy's arms. Actually, that might be the only time a married couple could have some fun, I mean the kid's actually out of the house! Let's party!

OK, maybe not.

Ron Howard has quietly become the 90's epitome of the Hollywood Director. He makes "Hollywood Pictures." Any Opie Cunningham flick is destined to be standard Hollywood Fare, right up there with the best of them. And Ransom is no slouch. It has the pizzazz needed to give everyone a swift kick in the buttocks.

It is, however, quite long. Now long does not necessarily mean bad, but it does wear thin after a while. I found myself watching the reactions of the people around me more often than the movie at times. Just to see if they liked it. They did, but it weren't no masterpiece.

In my humble opinion, both Gibson and Howard are going through the motions in this one, still reeling from creating two of the best pictures of last year in Braveheart and Apollo 13. They needed a no-brainer to get back in shape, and Ransom is it.

The script is well written, it's not it's fault that most of it's secrets were given away by the ad department. But I just gotta ask, as the bad guy keeps calling them up and not letting them trace the calls and they get so frustrated, why don't they just hit redial on the phone?

"He hung up, did you get him?"

"Just missed the trace! Hit redial!"

"Good Idea!" Good Guy punches the redial button. Waits.

"Hello, evil bad guy here."

"Ha! Got ya!"

"Damn that auto-redial!!!!!"

Maybe that would have been a little anti-climactic.

All told, I'm gonna give Ransom 3 2/7 Babylons. It could have had more, but I'm taking out my frustrations at any movie that cast Danny Walberg in it. Even for a small part.

That's just wrong.

Editor's Note: