Film / The River Wild

The River Wild is a 1994 American thriller film directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, David Strathairn, John C. Reilly, and Joseph Mazzello. The story involves a family on a whitewater rafting trip who encounter two violent criminals in the wilderness.

Tropes included:

  • Bad Boss: Wade frequently insults Terry for his mistakes. He even slaps him for having let Tom escape in one scene.
  • Big Bad: Wade.
  • Bond One-Liner: "He got to ride 'The Gauntlet' after all".
  • Chekhov's Gun: Because Gail's dad is deaf, the whole family knows sign language.
  • Counting Bullets: Wade only got to reload his revolver once before his ammo is thrown overboard. In the end, he's surprised his gun is empty when Gail attempts to shoot him.
  • The Dragon: Terry, though he reluctantly goes along with Wade's leadership.
  • Defensive Failure: Subverted- Wade tries to kill Gail after she chooses to fire what he thinks is the pistol's last bullet into the air instead of shooting him. Turns out, she had two bullets and kills him with the actual last one.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Meryl Streep nearly drowned while filming a rafting scene.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Wade. As soon as he's unmasked, he drops the friendly facade.
  • Hands-On Approach: Tom isn't quite amused to watch his wife teach Wade to flyfish.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: At the climax of the film, Gail kills Wade with the very same gun he was using against them for the duration of the movie.
  • Insistent Terminology: Tom doesn't make sketches, he makes designs.
  • Kick the Dog: Wade attempts to shoot the family's dog during the film because he considers it expendable. The dog gets away unharmed.
    • He also slaps Roarke for having tell his parents about his gun.
  • Married to the Job: Tom is obsessed with his designs.
  • Meaningful Name: Wade can't swim...
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Terry, as he at times contests Wade's method.
  • Red Herring: Roarke throws his camera in the river to keep it away from Wade. Johnny finds it... and returns it to them.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Secret Test of Character: Gail fakes being out of bullets when holding Wade at gunpoint after surviving the Gauntlet, so she can see how he reacts.
  • Skinny Dipping: Gail takes a bath in the river.
  • Villain Ball: Wade murders Ranger Johnny, but fails to take his gun despite only having 2 bullets left.
  • Wasn't That Fun??: After riding and surviving the feared "Gauntlet" with no injuries.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Wade outright orders Terry to kill both Tom and Roarke after finding that Gail has no bullets in the gun. Or so he thought.