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Page # 1046

The River Wild
Director: Curtis Hanson
Screenplay: Denis O'Neill
Producer: David Foster, Denis O'Neill, Ilona Herzberg, Lawrence Turman, Raymond Hartwick
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, David Strathairn, Joseph Mazzello, John C. Reilly
Genre: Action & Adventure

Running Time: 108
Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 (NTSC Widescreen)
Sound: Dolby
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Studio:  Universal Studios DVD Region:  1 PG-13
DVD Release:  Dec 1997 Discs:  1 (Cloud) []
Reviews:  While the "vacationing family in peril" is not a new construct, director Curtis Hanson, in one of his pre-L.A. Confidential genre films, brings a fresh and palpable fear to the scenario in The River Wild. Due to the believable performances -- led by Meryl Streep in a departure and the wolfish Kevin Bacon in his familiar sheep's clothing -- the film crackles with a sense of normalcy spinning out of control. In less skillful hands, the good deed of picking up stranded boaters along a rocky river would have been saturated with doom from minute one -- as well as the certainty that the heroes would emerge unscathed. Hanson paints the set-up more in shades of gray, leaving the menacing behavior more of a surprise (even when the audience knows it's coming), and the outcome of tense moments not nearly so easy to telegraph. As the emasculated father, David Strathairn hits just the right pitch of nervous desperation. One might criticize the film for borrowing too heavily from another rafting adventure gone awry, Deliverance -- including a noticeable parallel between the off-boat survival instincts of Strathairn and Deliverance's Jon Voight. But Hanson and Streep provide the credibility to elevate The River Wild beyond the level of mere knock-off. by Derek Armstrong, All Movie Guide

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