Ron Howard does seem to be a good director. None of his movies have been very bad (except perhaps Backdraft). But sometimes he is a tad sterile. Everything is neat and tidy; there are no rough edges. That need not be a criticism, but in Ransom the subject matter is far from neat and tidy.
Mel Gibson’s character is very interesting. It is rare to see a main character be a slimy bastard who participates in shady business deals and gets away with it, as Tom Mullen (Gibson’s character) does. But the movie treats his shady dealings more as a part of his character than as an event. As such, they give Gibson’s character an interesting slant. Mullen is headstrong and always in the driver’s seat; he knows what he wants and he knows what’s right (in his mind). So when his character makes the decision to turn the tables on the kidnappers, it is not just a plot device to make for an interesting movie, it is a legitimate part of Gibson’s character.