review by Bobby Blakey
In 1994 audiences were taken down the river with the action thriller The River Wild starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon and David Strathairm. Now 30 Days of Night: Dark Days director Ben Ketai is bringing on a reimagining of the film with the his latest film River Wild this time starring Leighton Meester, Taran Killam, and Adam Brody. Could this version bring more of the same action and thrills as the original or will it fail to survive the current?
River Wild follows Joey who fears there could be trouble ahead after her brother Gray invites Trevor, a childhood friend with a troubled past, on their whitewater rafting adventure with two tourists. Once they become stranded in raging rapids, the thrill-seeking trip quickly turns from exciting to utterly terrifying as the rafters are trapped in a desperate fight for their lives, all while someone seems intent on sabotage to ensure shocking secrets stay buried. To survive the wild river, Joey will have to face her fears, and everyone will have to develop killer instincts before they’re torn apart by deception aboard the raft, or by deadly waters wreaking havoc all around them.
It's been forever since I have seen the original but remember liking it quite a bit so was both interested in this concept of the film and also wondering why it needed to exist. First and foremost, this film is pretty much its own animal with the only connection being the basis of the story being on the river and craziness ensuing. The story direction and characters linked into this version of the story is completely different so gives it a chance to bring its own fresh take on the source material without trying to mimic anything before it.
The film works well for what is doing, keeping you on the edge waiting to see
what happens next, but sadly never finds its way out of by the numbers. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily as it is entertaining but needed something extra to really drive it home. There is seemingly a lot of building to add depth to the strained relationships here, yet when it gets to the meat of the issues it felt more random and js a serious of bad choices of paranoia into just blatant insanity.
It never felt like there was a real reason or point to the reasoning behind it all despite it looking like they were initially setting something up. Despite this strange direction, what they do with this material is decent enough in what’s here. It runs everything by the numbers doesn’t offer up any real twists and pay attention enough it is pretty obvious where it is all going. It’s one of those films that stands fine on its own and will no doubt entertain but isn’t breaking down any barriers in the genre.
Decide for yourself and check out River Wild available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD from Universal.