The River Wild (1994)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This thriller filmed on location in Oregon and Montana, features Meryl Streep as a daring, strong mother who must navigate a raging river to save the lives of her husband and son. Streep performed 90% of the river stunts in the film. To celebrate her son's tenth birthday, Gail, a former white water guide, takes him and his dog out West for a rafting trip. Her work-a-holic husband Tom joins them at the last moment. Gail was raised on the river and knows it intimately. They meet three "fishermen" who seem inordinately interested in Gail's knowledge of the river. In reality, the men are on the lam after robbing a cattle auction and killing two men. They are hoping to run the river past the treacherous white water stretch, the Gauntlet, and escape. The are led by the charismatic gun-toting Wade who eventually, hijacks the family. After dumping Tom and the dog upon the shore he coerces Gail to attempt the dreaded Gauntlet, which Gail has only run once before, by holding a gun to her son's head. The tension mounts as the spectacular rapids approach. Will they make it?
Action & Adventure , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MCA Universal Home Video

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Benjamin Bratt
as Ranger Johnny
Victor H. Galloway
as Gail's Father
Elizabeth Hoffman
as Gail's Mother
Diane Delano
as Ranger
Paul Cantelon
as Violinist
Glenn Morshower
as Policeman
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Critic Reviews for The River Wild

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (7)

The perfect high old time for audiences in the mood to be tossed into the spin cycle for a pulse-pounding thrill ride.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

O'Neill proves to be a squeamish screenwriter. He doesn't allow his villain to do anything truly unnerving until the story's nearly done.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Constructed from so many ideas, characters and situations recycled from other movies that all the way down the river I kept thinking: Been there. Done that.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

If watched from a mildly amused, forgiving distance, the movie has its enjoyable moments -- good and campy.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

The thriller framework is still familiar, but the results exhibit a welcome freshness.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Another 1990s domestic parable chastising workaholic dads, The River Wild also functions as a gorgeous travelogue and a Meryl Streep action film.

Full Review… | February 29, 2012

Audience Reviews for The River Wild


I really dig this flick. It's good to see Streep doing something this fun and Bacon makes a great villain. I've seen it at least 15 times and I never get tired of watching it.

Jason Spencer
Jason Spencer

Super Reviewer


Thriller about robbers who kidnap a family to help him escape down river. Good cast.

Candy Rose
Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

Exciting, but not rewatchable

Jim Careter
Jim Careter

Super Reviewer

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