While on a fun rafting adventure, a family is forced to use their skills and knowledge to navigate very strong rapids or die at the hands of bank robbers turned kidnappers. Tom is a hard-working husband and father whose demanding job means that he misses a lot of dinners and family activities. Gail is a wife and mother of two who is getting frustrated at feeling like a single mom so much of the time. She is very upset when Tom comes home while she is packing for their son's birthday trip to say that yet again, he cannot go.
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Nevertheless, she packs and plans for the trip to be without Tom, but she is very unhappy about it, as is their son Roarke. When she meets her parents who will be babysitting their daughter Willa, as she is too young for the rafting adventure that is planned, she vents some of her frustration to her mom. In addition, we learn that everyone in the family knows sign language, because her father is deaf.
After arriving at the starting point for their rafting trip over some rapids, she meets two new people. Wade and Terry are inexperienced, but enthusiastic rafters and they are thrilled to learn that when she was younger, Gail was a guide on the same river. Her son is disappointed because they will not be going over the really big rapids that are the end of the trip, because they have been closed for some time due to deaths that occurred at that point. We also see that Wade is buying some first aid supplies.
Just before Gail, Roarke and their dog Maggie, take off, Tom shows up. He knows nothing about rafting, but he did not want to miss this major event in their son's life. Although Roarke at first is thrilled that his dad was able to make it, he is soon disappointed to discover that he is only there physically. He is still working and unable to participate in much of the experience.
That night is Roarke's birthday and gets a picture of rollerblades that he has wanted that are waiting at home and an extremely useful pocket knife. Wade and Terry want to participate as well and give him cash, which his parents deem to be overly generous and make him give back. That causes tension between both groups. Later, Gail is enjoying a dip in the water, when she realizes that Terry is watching her bathe in the nude. Between the two events, Gail and Tom decide to separate the next morning from Wade and Terry, although she previously agreed to be his guide of sorts, because they had no idea what to do.
However, they do not manage to leave on time and Wade and Terry show their true colors. They get Roarke on their boat, talk some and show him their gun. When they meet later, Maggie runs off which keeps them from grabbing Roarke and moving ahead. They are kidnapped and Gail is forced to navigate the raft. She is also informed that if anything happens, they are all dead and Gail will be forced to navigate the final rapid. It is called "The Gauntlet" and is a series of large, powerful rapids.
Over the next few minutes, the dog is believed to be dead, Roarke is tied in the boat and during an escape attempt, Tom is knocked out of the boat and shot. He does not re-appear and he is thought to be dead as well. Roarke uses his waterproof camera to take pitches of the kidnappers and tosses it down stream and we learn that Wade cannot swim. In addition, the reasons for this trip is that Wade and Terry, along with another man who is dead now, robbed an auction and are using the water to get away.
Maggie reappears to Tom, who is also alive. A guide named Johnny, a Native American, meets them at a spot after they do not stop at the designated stopping point. Johnny gives them the camera he found. It turns out that Maggie and Johnny knew each other when she was a guide before and she attempts to let him know there is a problem, unfortunately, Wade kills him. Tom uses his architectural knowledge to change certain aspects of the area around them to help Gail and carves a message in sign language on the wall to let her know he is alive.
Soon, they manage to flip the raft, which sends Wade into the water after the money, although he cannot swim. Gail is forced to shoot him when he tries again to hurt them. We see his corpse floating down the water and soon, the family is brought out of the water by law enforcement and a helicopter.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the incorporation of sign language and that Maggie the dog was a smart dog who played a fun role in the movie. However, the strong role of a woman to navigate the raft and save the day was a refreshing change from most action movies.
Best scene in story:
At the next to the last row of rapids, we see they barely made it through. Wade made a comment about they made it through that one, so the Gauntlet should be okay and Gail laughs at his ignorance, because the strong rapid they just went through nothing compared to the Gauntlett and she ten begins to prepare everyone for what their parts will be if they are to have any hope of surviving it. She basically waded in, took over and although she is technically their victim, they are in her control at that point and they know it.
Opinion about the main character:
I loved that she was a strong woman who did not hesitate to do what she needed to do. Whether it was when she was willing to take their son on his birthday raft ride without her husband, navigating the rapids while a kidnap victim or shooting Wade, she did what was necessary, even though it was over 20 years since she last went on the stronger rapids.
THE RIVER WILD is a film directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) in 1994.
Gail, Tom and their son Roarke are on holiday and about to start a rafting trip. A few hours later, they meet Wade and Terry who say to the family that they have lost their guide after a quarrel. Both men are in fact criminals on the run who soon take the family hostage and force Gail, an experienced rafter, to lead them through white water rapids. Tom manages to escape and follows from the top of the canyon the ride of the boat. Now Wade asks Gail to reach and pass The Gauntlet, two miles of waterfalls and violent rapids.
The review of this Movie prepared by Daniel Staebler