River Wild (2023)

River Wild (2023)

Lean and effective, this remake of the 1994 thriller of the same name is watchable from start to end (as long as you don’t compare it to the original)



United States of America
Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Adam Brody, Eve Connolly, Leighton Meester
92 min


With just 91 minutes of run time, it’s a one-and-done thriller with enough emotional heft to carry it through—in other words, the perfect weeknight watch.

What it's about

Joey (Leighton Meester) joins her brother Gray (Taran Killam) and his childhood friend Trevor (Adam Brody) on a rafting trip that goes sideways.

The take

While it starts off slow and rocky, River Wild sails smoothly as soon as it hits the waters. The rafting on the rapids, the wild chases, the suspenseful silences—all are effectively shot and believably terrifying, even if they border on predictability at times. Real-life couple Meester and Brody are vulnerable and intense, adding some depth to an otherwise basic story. Killam is compelling too, especially during the action sequences, but I might have seen him in one-too-many comedy sketches to trust his sincerity here. It’s not the best outdoor thriller by a long shot, especially if you compare it to the superior 1994 original film starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, but it is entertaining in its own right. 

What stands out

The cold open plays like a Jeep commercial, and while I agree it is a sturdy and pretty car (it goes through rocky terrain like butter!), this scene alone almost made me want to turn the movie off. I probably would’ve if the ad ran for a second more, but thankfully, it didn’t stretch on for too long. It was a distracting but ultimately harmless appearance that probably (thankfully?) covered a hefty chunk the film’s limited budget.


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