The River Wild

USA | 1994 | 113 minutes | PG

Fast-paced thriller in which a young family on a white-water rafting adventure in Montana are taken hostage by a pair of dangerous fugitives. The rafting holiday – a birthday gift for the New England couple’s ten-year-old son – turns into a nightmare when the two armed killers take control and try to force the mother, a proficient rafter, to use her skills to help them to escape down the treacherous rapids.

Director: Curtis Hanson
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, David Strathairn, John C. Reilly


Curtis Hanson had a modest number of directorial credits, but he managed to carve out some wonderful gems. He certainly made an impact in the thriller genre, particularly in the 90s, with titles like The Hand the Rocks the Cradle, Bad Influence and, of course, L.A. Confidential. But The River Wild is one of his pictures from that time that is overlooked. It’s an exciting film that deserves to be a summer/fall classic. It has a rewatch-ability that is perfect to watch with others. The River Wild clearly made an imprint on how we watched thrillers in a decade full of great ones. It is a solid popcorn flick.

Of course, the film is driven by acting legend Meryl Streep, who proved that she should have made a lot more action movies in the 90s. She got in incredible shape for this film and executed a lot of her own rowing, except for the most difficult stunts on the rapids. However, there are plenty of moments where it is very clear she has a lot of physical power to match her acting chops. How would the landscape of women in cinema look now if a heavyweight like Meryl Streep had a few more blockbuster action/thrillers under her belt? – VANYA GARRAWAY

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