River Wild [1994]

Meryl Streep tried her hand at action films with this Curtis Hanson film and proved herself quite credible, bringing emotion as well as the willingness to kick butt. She plays a suburban mom and former white-water rafting guide who is taking her family on a raft trip for summer vacation. But overworked Dad (David Strathairn) can't make the trip, so she and her son leave without him--and walk right into trouble. Killers on the run (Kevin Bacon, John C. Reilly) abduct them and force Streep to take them down the most dangerous stretch of river to elude the cops. Hanson understands how to pace and construct this kind of action fodder, but it's strictly formula stuff, enlivened only by the depth of Streep's portrayal and the viciousness of Bacon's character. --Marshall Fine

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