Back in 1994 when the film was out I wondered about Meryl Streep doing an action/thriller type film. Picture it the woman from such films as Out of Africa, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Sophie’s Choice in a raft hurtling down some rapids while trying not to have anyone in her family shot by the pair who have taken them hostage? Not exactly how you picture America’s best living actress making her living is it?
The mother of a family decides that taking a trip together will bring them closer. Gail (Meryl Streep), who is an expert white water rafter, has taken her family, husband Tom (David Strathairn – The Bourne Ultimatum, L.A. Confidential) and son Roarke (Joseph Mazzello – The Social Network, Jurassic Park), on a trip down the river. While on their family adventure they meet up with two men who claim to need their help rafting down the river where they will meet up with their friends.
Wade and Terry will follow Gail and her family down the river. Gail and tom begin to feel uncomfortable around the two and try to slip away from them. They will not let this happen and Wade pulls a gun on the family to stop them. Soon Gail and her family discover that these two men are lying to them and are actually bank robbers.
Wade (Kevin Bacon – Footloose, Frost/Nixon) and Terry (John C. Reilly – Step Brothers, Gangs of New York) force the family to take them down the river and through the Gauntlet. Where the two robbers want Gail to take them is through a set of rapids that no one has been able to get through alive. Not only is their vacation over, but their lives are now in danger.
Entertaining and gripping throughout despite the fact that you are well aware that the family gets through this safely. It is not a plot line (good family put at risk by bad guys) that you haven’t seen before, but what is good is that the makers of the film did not try to fill it out with crazy plot twists or other hollow devices. Simplicity and credibility are what they are going for and they do accomplish it on both counts.
Though this is not Shakespeare all the actors still do what is asked of them convincingly. Kevin Bacon is great at the real baddie and his confrontations with Meryl Streep are fun (if you can call it that). Bacon is charismatic and threatening at the same time.