The River Wild (1994) Review

When Gail Hartman returns to her hometown with her son Roarke to take him on the wild river for his birthday where years earlier she used to be a guide, her workaholic husband Tom had originally not travelled with them but caught up just as they were about to leave, their daughter left with Gail’s parents. They were not the only ones to be navigating the river . . .


It was never going to be an easy trip with Roarke still very angry and annoyed with Tom for not wanting to be with them originally. That certainly makes for some tension especially when Tom does not seem to be happy in the water and in the raft despite Gail trying her very best. Before leaving Wade befriends Roarke and he leaves with his friends Terry and Frank.

Later on the trip the family see Wade and Terry again and find out they do not have rafting experience at all, and have lost Frank who was their guide. The plan for them was to go on the route that is now actually closed and a place that Gail herself only just survived once. She then agreed to help them cross for safety reasons, Tom is very dubious about them and his initial thoughts were actually spot on!

Hearing about a big robbery and the behaviour changes in Wade and Terry start to all come together and this leaves the Hartman family in great danger. The fact that Gail is very experienced on the raft ensures that they should remain safe until they get through different parts of the water.

It turns out that being on a raft and navigating this was actually super exciting and really great to watch! It really was a non-stop ride and you cannot help but enjoy everything about the film. Revealing a gun to a child as well was like an OMG moment lets face it Wade was a bit of a loose cannon. Crazy that Terry actually came across as quite a nice guy.

The tension build up was certainly aided by the fact that you could not then get away from the two men very easily as to get off the river you had to pretty much finish and get to the end, that made everything even better. I loved seeing Meryl Streep in this type of role and thought physically she looked fantastic and the part, a very strange observation I made was her muscular legs which really made it look like she had trained for a while to prepare for this! Another point on that is according to trivia she did most of her own stunts. Joseph Mazzello who is most recognisable from Jurassic Park was very good in this film. David Strathairn is an actor I have not seen in many films but I felt he was engaging enough and worked very well with Streep. Kevin Bacon and John C. Reilly were really good together as the bad guys and offered more than enough to feel likeable and dangerous which made it hard to truly hate them (to begin with anyway).

I have no idea how I had never actually heard of this film before and neither did my following on twitter! I couldn’t believe it when this totally exploded and people were very shocked that I had never heard of it before, I mean come on I am a huge Meryl Streep fan so how on earth did I miss this one?

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