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.
  • 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.