The River Wild Review

We review the remake of the Meryl Streep thriller The River Wild.

PLOT: Follows a pair of siblings who love but distrust each other as they embark on a white-water rafting trip with a small group. One of their friends from childhood turns out to be more dangerous than he appears.

REVIEW: Undoubtedly there will be a ton of comparisons to the original film, but honestly outside of the fact that they are on a river and there’s a convict, this isn’t much connection. In fact, I feel calling it The River Wild does a massive disservice as you’re immediately going to draw a comparison to the Meryl Streep-starring venture. But despite this not having any Oscar Winners in it, the performances are entertaining and the dynamics between the characters are interesting. I found myself on the edge of my seat, despite the story having lower stakes than the original.

Leighton Meester and Taran Killam star as a brother and sister going on a rafting trip. Killam runs the rafting service with his friend (Brody) who has a criminal past. When one of the girls in their group gets injured under mysterious circumstances, getting her back proves to be near impossible. There are some twists that you’ll see coming from a mile away but there are others that feel well planned and executed. Most of what works about the movie are the interactions between the characters and their ever-shifting dynamics.

Adam Brody, Leighton Meester, and Taran Killam in The River Wild (2023).

I’m not entirely sure I believed Adam Brody‘s quick change to being a bad guy. His reasonings felt a little suspect, though I did enjoy how they justified it. He feels miscast as he’s usually a loveable goofball and it’s hard to break that illusion. Despite their real-life marriage, I quite enjoyed the dynamic between Brody and Leighton Meester. They seemed to be the most comfortable in their own shoes, in scenes opposite each other. I think this also has to do with the fact that their characters are so at odds, so those scenes give them the most to work with. Taran Killam is good as the brother, but I often just wanted to shake him. He could have easily made the situation better on multiple occasions yet he fails to do so. I also really enjoyed Olivia Swann, who has quite the screen presence.

I enjoyed how much of a slow burn the darker elements were. They allow you to come along for the journey of this rafting trip and get to know the characters. I was really impressed with how natural all of this felt and almost made me forget what kind of film I was watching. I have to give it to this movie, they really made me squirm in my seat. From the girl with the neck injury being transported across raging rapids to self-surgery, so many things could have gone poorly. And they do. But it all makes for a tense thrill ride that is executed splendidly.

Adam Brody in The River Wild (2023).

The action in the movie is a true highlight. Both with the raging river scenes, which are wonderfully shot, to the hand-to-hand fighting. John Wick really has had such a positive effect on action cinema as Jiu-Jitsu and Judo get much more prominent showing and provide a more realistic fight on screen. I also appreciated just how practical everything was. The river felt raging and unpredictable and provided plenty of great tension-filled moments.

I was shocked at how much I enjoyed The River Wild. Wildly predictable but executed in such a well-done manner that I couldn’t help but be intrigued from start to finish. There are fantastic performances all around and it’s always fun to see a real-life husband and wife quarreling on screen. I’m hoping that this movie will find an audience that gives it a shot as it’s an intense thrill ride. Plus, any film that takes the practical route versus CGI feels like a breath of fresh air in this day and age.


A trailer has been released for the direct-to-video reimagining of The River Wild, starring Adam Brody and Leighton Meester

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About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.