The teacher Gail Hartman is facing problems with her marriage with her husband, the workaholic architect Tom Hartman. On the birthday of their son Roarke, Gail decides to leave her daughter with her parents and take her family to raft down a wild river where she was a guide. On the departure, a young man named Wade befriends Roarke and leaves the place with his friends Terry and Frank. Later the family encounters Wade and Terry, who do not have rafting experience, and Gail helps them to cross a whitewater. They get closer to the family and soon Gail and Tom learn a dark secret about Wade and Terry. What will they do to get rid of the men? Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nothing too special but an enjoyable little thriller nonetheless
To celebrate her son Roarke's birthday and help build his relationship with his father (and her), Gail takes the family unit up to where she used to work as a river guide for a bit of white water rafting. Once there they meet another group heading down river and, when Wade and Terry lose their guide, Gail agrees to let them follow them in their own boat. However when Gail and Tom begin to feel uncomfortable with their guests they try to slip away unnoticed only for Wade to pull a gun and insist that Gail will help them proceed downriver and cross the legendary Gauntlet.
I first watched this when it came out in the cinema and I remember enjoying it. However noticing it back on television recently I couldn't help but be a little uninterested in it and wondered if I had just false memories of how good it really had been and so decided to watch it again and see. After a slow opening the film gets down to business with the two boats getting together and gradually going to the conclusion that we know is coming but enjoy heading towards anyway. The film delivers its straightforward plot well in the early stages, using the father-figure conflict well (even if it ignores the heavy feminist subtext) to generate the tension, while the later stages is more of a simple hostage thriller sort of affair. This aspect is still quite enjoyable even if it is not as tight as it really needed to be and, as a non-rafter, I wasn't sure how intimidated I was meant to be by the load of water that was the gauntlet.
As a result, the film is a little talky but the cast are able to deal with it and it is really only the clunky, slow start that suffers as a result. I'm not a big fan of Meryl Streep and I didn't think she was totally fitted to the material given her but mostly her performance was natural enough to be convincing. Strathairn plays second fiddle to Streep but he is still enjoyable as he delivers an insecure character. With these two big names in the lead it would have been easy for them to dominate but it is Kevin Bacon that steals the film with a charismatic performance that he easily turns into menace hardly his greatest performance but he makes more of it than others have in the past. Mazzello is a typical 'cute kid' American actor but he is good enough for this material and he is pretty good in the first half when he is given the material. Reilly and Bratt add some well-known faces to the mix but really neither has that much to do.
Overall this is not a great film but it is good enough to be worth seeing once. The action is not typical for this genre and the novelty value of it makes it seem more interesting. The film looks good and it is tense enough to do the job while the plot gets past the slow start to deliver an interesting set up and a solid enough series of set pieces with a good cast and director onboard (sorry!).
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