Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

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).  Celebrate the 15th Anniversary Edition, digitally re-mastered for the first time ever on Blu-ray Disc, featuring deleted scenes, commentary from Director Ron Howard and behind-the-scenes footage! 


Ransom stars Mel Gibson as Tom Mullen, a wealthy man who built an airline from the ground up. His wife Kate (Rene Russo) is a former school teacher.  They have a son Sean (Brawley Nolte) and they live in an upscale New York apartment. As the film opens, Kate is judging a science fair and Tom and Sean are in attendance. Sean had really wanted to enter his remote controlled balloon and camera in the contest, but his parents told him it wouldn’t be fair to enter when his mother is a judge.  Despite that, Sean brings his contraption to the science fair and he and his father watch it fly. When Tom begins talking to some friends and loses sight of Sean for just a few moments, Sean disappears. Tom follows the balloon and finds it has crashed but he can’t find any sign of Sean.  Kate frantically calls out for Sean on the microphone and gets no response.  Tom and Kate eventually head home hoping Sean had run off, angry about the science fair.

A phone call comes in and tells Tom to check his email. The email shows footage of Sean, chained to a bed with tape on his eyes.  A voice says they want two million dollars or they will kill Sean.  The voice also says that Sean will also be killed if the Mullens involve the police.  Tom was recently investigated by the FBI for bribing a union official and Kate wants Tom to call the FBI because they know them.  By the time the FBI team arrives, Tom has gathered the two million dollars in cash and wants to pay the ransom.  Sean is being held in a house being watched by kidnappers Lili Taylor, Liev Schrieber and his little brother Cubby (Donnie Wahlberg).  Gary Sinise plays James Taylor, the leader of the kidnappers and also a member of the NYPD.

Taylor sends Tom jumping through hoops during the ransom drop. He has him retrieve a key from a pool, change clothes, bags, and even cars. The instructions are to go to a quarry where he can exchange the money for an address. Cubby is sent to retrieve the money and does not have an address for Tom. The FBI followed the money and blow the whole operation, killing Cubby before Tom can find out more information.  After more negotiating with the kidnapper, Tom decides to go on TV and sit before the two million dollars in cash. On live TV he tells the kidnappers they will never see the money.  Instead he offers the money as a bounty on their heads.  Tom bets that someone in their lives will turn them in.  He further adds that he will run an ad in every major newspaper weekly until they are caught – dead or alive doesn’t matter.  Kate does not agree and the FBI agents think its a mistake as well.  Kate begs Tom to take it back but instead he walks out the front door where reporters are gathered and states he is undeterred in his course of action and doubles the bounty/reward.  Tom bets that would not have gotten his son back simply by paying and hopes that the kidnappers will fear a vengeful father with significant resources, and will return Sean and flee.

It’s interesting how you’re perspective changes on movies with age, and especially after having children.  I remember seeing Ransom in the movie theater and that I enjoyed it very much.  Now that I have a child of my own, I don’t really want to watch a movie about a young boy being kidnapped even if I know how it ends.  The idea of children being kidnapped resonates with me in a way it never used to.  Despite those disturbing thoughts, I did enjoy the film overall. It is well acted by Mel Gibson although Rene Russo was less believable.  I’ve recently been watching Gary Sinise in “CSI New York” as the ultimate good guy, but in this movie he plays a bad guy in  really well.  The story is slightly less predictable than the usual kidnap/ransom movie and even a little bit of originality is more than I tend to expect.


Ransom is presented in 1080p high definition with a wide-screen 1.85:1 ratio.  The opening black and white sequence is intentionally grainy but the rest of the film isn’t that remarkable either.  It looks pretty good for a fifteen year old film but in lighter shots and up against light walls it’s easy to see the digital noise make its presence known.  Detail is good and especially noticeable in the rundown kidnappers apartment.  Colors also look good for the most part and the black levels are decent as well.


Ransom is presented in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.  There are available 5.1 French and 2.0 Spanish tracks as well.  Dialogue is clear and at a consistent level throughout.  The audio is prevalent in the center channels and is adequate for the film.  This is a fairly active soundtrack that attempts to keep the onscreen events alive though some directional effects that work for the most part.  The rear channels could have been used a lot more effectively, but overall for a film this old, it sounds pretty darn good.


The special features are not that exciting but are more than I expected given the other recent anniversary editions like Cocktail that were recently released with no extras at all.

The Blu-ray disc contains the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – We are given four deleted scenes that weren’t necessary.
  • What Would You Do? – a short featurette with cast and crew interviewed about the film’s themes.
  • Audio Commentary – commentary by director Ron Howard that’s offers some interesting tidbits from the genial director.
  • Between Takes – Behind the scenes special featuring the director and principal actors.
  • International Theatrical Trailer


Mel Gibson is definitely believable as an angry vengeful father and the rest of the cast is excellent as well.  Gary Sinise is very good in his tricky role, while Rene Russo delivered my least favorite performance but it really didn’t matter that much overall. Ransom is a well-directed and a generally interesting flick, but not quite the kind of movie that I would want to watch repeatedly like I had expected.

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