[Screen It]


(1996) (Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise) (R)

Warning! The following contains important plot points that may give away much of the story. Read on at your own discretion.

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Extreme Extreme Heavy Extreme
Mild Minor Heavy None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor Mild Extreme Moderate Extreme

Suspense/Thriller: The father of a boy kidnaped for ransom turns the tables when he puts a bounty on the kidnaper's head.
Tom (MEL GIBSON) and Kate Mullen (RENE RUSSO) lead a happy and wealthy life that's resulted from his creation and overseeing of a very profitable airline that he built from scratch. Their peaceful lives, however, are shattered when their son, Sean (BRAWLEY NOLTE), is kidnaped and held for ransom. His kidnapers, including bad cop Jimmy Shaker (GARY SINISE), his girlfriend Maris Connor (LILI TAYLOR), brothers Clark (LIEV SCHREIBER) and Cubby Barnes (DONNIE WAHLBERG) and Miles Roberts (EVAN HANDLER), want two million dollars or they'll kill Sean. The FBI's called in and Agent Lonnie Hawkins (DELROY LINDO) gives the Mullens good odds of having their son returned safely if they meet the kidnapers' demands. Tom has other ideas, however, and turns the tables by offering the ransom money as a bounty reward on the kidnapers.
There's plenty of star power here that might just drawn older kids to this film. Younger kids, though, probably won't have an interest in it.
For graphic bloody violence and strong language.
  • Of the major characters, only those played by RENE RUSSO and DELROY LINDO can be considered as good role models. MEL GIBSON's character, while a likeable "hero" who's pleasing to the crowd, can't be considered one. It turns out he paid a bribe to avoid a strike at his airline and that ended up with the wrong man going to prison. He also endangers the life of his child by going against what everyone else tells him is the right thing to do and instead places a reward for bounty hunters to collect.


    OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
    This is a big-time, thoroughly enjoyable suspense/thriller. While it does have some sloppy plot points (Would the kidnaper really go to the family's home to collect his reward knowing full well that the boy would recognize his voice?) they are far outweighed by the fine performances and able direction by Ron Howard. Gibson is perfect as the father who takes action into his own hands and he's definitely the catalyst for audience hooping and hollering as he begins his crusade to get his son back. Delroy Lindo proves again that he's one of the better character actors working today and Russo is competent in her role, but isn't given much to work with. Sinise takes time off from playing the good guy (in "Forrest Gump," and "Apollo 13") and delivers a fine performance as the villain who watches his plan slowly erode into something he hadn't imagined. It's easy to get wrapped up into the emotions of the plot and the near vigilante style twist the movie takes is sure to please viewers who get off on the bad guys getting their comeuppance from the hero who's finally had enough. We enjoyed the production and give it an 8 out of 10 for its straightforward value as an entertaining film.
    Obviously this isn't a movie for young kids due to its content as well as its main plot line: kidnaping. Young kids will worry that they might be kidnaped, so it's just as well to keep them away from this one. The movie has a heavy suspense rating and profanity is extreme with 50+ uses of the "f" word. Toward the end it turns into quite the violent film with extreme amounts of blood letting and people being killed. If your kids really want to see this one, we suggest you read through the scene listings before allowing them to do so (but be forewarned, many important plot points are disclosed below).

  • People drink martinis and wine at a reception at the Mullen's home.
  • One of the kidnapers evidently has a drinking problem and is occasionally seen drinking liquor and in one scene appears to be drunk.
  • Jimmy is seen drinking a beer in a bar.
  • Some welts are seen on Sean's legs from where the binding ropes have cut into his skin.
  • Tom's lip is a bit bloody after a former employee, who's in prison, lunges at him.
  • A kidnaper is very bloody after having been shot by a sniper.
  • After the kidnapers turn on each other, several of them are dead from gunshot wounds and are very bloody. In addition, lots of blood splattering occurs as they're being shot. Moments later, Maris is seen lying in a large pool of her own blood.
  • By the end of the movie, Tom has a good amount of blood running down his face.
  • Jimmy is very bloody and blood freely runs from a neck wound after he's been thrown through a storefront window.
  • Obviously the kidnapers have an extreme dose of both as they take the child, chain him to a bed and threaten to kill him many times.
  • We find out that Tom paid off a bribe to prevent a strike at his airline that ended with one of his former workers going to prison (when he wasn't the only guilty party).
  • Many of the scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense and/or suspenseful to viewers.
  • Since you know the general plot from the beginning, the kidnapers' preparations for their act (intercut with "family" scenes) are rather tense.
  • The disguised voice used by the kidnapers will sound scary to younger kids.
  • The head kidnaper arrives at the Mullen's home (to collect his money) and eventually the tension grows as Tom figures out who the man really is.
  • Handguns: Used to threaten, wound, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Sniper rifle: Used to shoot one of the kidnapers.
  • Kidnaping someone for money. While it's not likely that kids would do that, they may get the idea of some sort of similar action to make quick and "easy" money. Even though that's a serious topic, we give this category just a mild rating due to the remote nature of kids imitating it.
  • Phrases: "Bastard," "Bitch," "Pissed," "Scumbag," "Shut up," "Balls," "Screwed me" (non-sexual), "Whack job" (non-sexual), and "Screwed up."
  • Jimmy suddenly shows up in a dilapidated church and attacks Kate.
  • The movie is full of suspenseful music that occurs throughout the movie.
  • None.
  • 53 "f" words (4 with the prefix "mother"), 27 "s" words, 12 "ass" words, 11 hells, 5 SOB's, 3 damns, 1 slang term for male genitals (the "p" word), and 14 uses of "God damn," 6 uses of "Jesus," 5 uses of "Oh God," 4 uses of "God," 3 uses of "Jesus Christ," "2 uses of "For Christ's sake," and 1 use each of "Christ" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • Jimmy gets into bed with Maris and for a brief moment part of his bare buttocks are seen.
  • Several of the kidnapers smoke cigarettes throughout the movie.
  • Since the film revolves around a child being kidnaped and the parents' reactions to that, this film receives an extreme rating due to the range of emotions that follow the act.
  • Kidnaping and whether one should pay the demanded ransom or not.
  • Several cops are rough with a man they've arrested as they throw him down onto the patrol car's trunk.
  • The kidnapers threaten to kill the boy many different times throughout the movie (often saying so in front of him). Jimmy says "I'll gut this kid like a fish."
  • Tom visits a former employee of his who's in prison. The man lunges over the table at Tom and has to be restrained by the guards.
  • Jimmy holds his gun to one of the other kidnaper's heads after the man got sloppy.
  • One of the kidnapers holds a gun on Tom during a ransom drop. He then slugs Tom in the face and then takes off, but the FBI arrives in helicopters and chases the man through a quarry. The kidnaper fires his handgun at S.W.A.T. team members repelling from the copters and hits one of them who falls to the ground. A sniper then shoots the kidnaper who later dies.
  • Tom punches Hawkins in the face (for killing one of the kidnapers at a ransom drop). Hawkins then restrains Tom and pins him to the floor.
  • One of the kidnapers grabs a knife and goes toward Sean. Jimmy punches him in the neck and the man falls to the floor, writhing in pain.
  • Tired of being followed by a TV news van, Tom stops his car, grabs a tire iron and smashes the window on the driver's side door.
  • Jimmy kicks one of his fellow kidnapers who's digging a grave, and later holds a gun on him.
  • Jimmy attacks Kate in a dilapidated church and punches her several times. He then chokes her as he threatens to kill Sean if Tom doesn't remove his reward bounty.
  • Kate slaps Tom when they hear a gunshot on the phone after Tom has provoked the kidnapers.
  • Jimmy is very upset and knocks and kicks things over in their house.
  • Jimmy shoots his partners who are in a van trying to get away. They're shot many times and lots of blood splatters out. Maris then shoots Jimmy who returns fire and kills her with several shots.
  • Jimmy shows up at the Mullen's home and threatens to kill Tom and presses his gun against Tom's head. Later, as they get into an elevator, Jimmy knees Tom in the groin.
  • Jimmy shoots two others cops and then there's a big chase scene. Tom catches Jimmy and punches him many times, but Jimmy escapes only to be caught again by Tom who then throws him through a storefront window. Tom grabs his gun and aims it at Jimmy as the police arrive and hold their guns on both men. Jimmy reaches for his gun and is shot dead by Tom and the police.

  • Reviewed November 6, 1996

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