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WARNING: I'll try to separate the original from the remake. I'll try... but it'll be near impossible for me. I know the original by heart and freaking love it to death! Readers discretion and chicks reading this should drop their tops right now.... is STRONGLY advised.
As you might know by now, I worship the original THE HITCHER
(read my review here) and hated the idea of a remake right off the stab. I didn’t even want to see it, not just because it’s THE HITCHER but I’m sick of seeing films I’ve already seen. But I run a horror website
so I put my personal feelings aside, walked in that theatre and
I did my best to give it a clean chance. Maybe it would be good! Maybe I’d catch myself
The Hitcher remake wasn't really a remake. Structurally, think a copy/paste job with random tweaks here and there much like The Omen remake. The beats were the same, many of the lines the same, the action/car carnage sequences pretty much the same in staging and the surprises (or lack of if you've seen the original) mostly the same. My term for these types of films is "shoddy dub of a great original". It was pretty much the same damn film but “teened up” in typical Platinum Dunes fashion, more akin to a music video than a feature film. The changes that were present were unfortunately not for the better. By making John Ryder’s target a young teen couple instead of one young man, gone were the high stakes put forward by the idea of being alone against a seemingly unstoppable evil force. Moreover, the engrossing relationship that Halsey and Ryder shared in the original, the psychological layers that lied beneath the action and the twisted mano et mano game that kept me hooked throughout... ALL GONE!
Yup, this remake simplified everything as much as it could for mass consumption, right down to the too aloof John Ryder (he's hardly in the film) and his now softy “game”. He came across as just another psychopath with a chip on his shoulder, Friday the 13th on wheels if you will, standard and typical. But that’s fine and dandy. It’s not the original, it’s a remake right? I should judge it on its own terms! Fine I'll try! Alone, the flick failed me over and over again. Its biggest mistake was that it didn’t get me to care about its cookie cutter teens or their by the numbers relationship. Not good when you're doing a "character driven" piece. And they actually mucked that up even more by doing the characterization thing backwards! The duder was more fleshed out and interesting than the lead gal! He at least showed tiny hints of evolution throughout by result of the f*cked up events that were befalling him. The dame on the other hand was a ball breaker in the beginning, she cried a bit and at the end she was that same ball breaker. Where was her character arc? Out to lunch? Giving what little juice there was to a secondary player was a bad move. Consequence of that? Tension and investment in the situation were diluted. Why should I give a hoot for "heroes" who hardly grow or don't grow at all?
And the same bon-bon jive went for the action scenes. They felt rushed and were often played up in the glossy department with one bit going as far as being tagged to a Nine Inch Nail song. Sure it was pretty gnarly and shite. I was smiling! But I shouldn't have been smiling. The approach, made the scene “fun” as opposed to nail-biting. Am I watching a horror/thriller or She's All That over here? I'm confused! The only scares I got out of this lollipop were of the cheap kind, yup, boo scares (loud noise and somebody/thing leaping into frame). Yawn! What about gore? Was there some of that sweet stuff? Yes the film was fairly gory and I was digging it on a primitive level (loved seeing Ryder shoot people in the head) but that’s all it was: kool violence for kool violence's sakes with little to no stakes tagged to it! I could get that playing a video game or whacking off!
And boy did they muck up really bad when it came to the now infamous token "The Hitcher" kill! Those who’ve seen the original will know what I mean when I say: “Mack Truck”. The build-up was too fast, the set-up altered for the worse and the gore laced conclusion looked like it would’ve been more comfortable in Freddy VS. Jason than here. I actually laughed out loud when the scene went down! I didn’t chuckle in the original. So by the time the flick reached its uber stylized, CG fire, “GAP skirt-girrrl power-ish” conclusion: I groaned like a drunk out of booze and couldn’t wait to book out the theatre. Why should I have cared? Its not like this hollow tube tried to have me invest in anything beyond overt gore, fashionable clothes and flashy action! Its as if they did everything to detach me from the happenings! They sheltered me from what this flick was really about and gave me a Jean commercial with death and car chases instead! Bugh...
Dumb ass Plot Holes note: Why put a bullet proof vest on a convict being transferred? Never seen that. - If I have a shotgun and a killer is in front of me; I don't aim and shoot at the bullet proof vest repeatedly, I aim for the legs or the head no? - Wouldn't a point blank shotgun blast blow one's head off? - End of note.
Anything positive to say? Well by rule of middle finger, I love
Sean Bean, and although he had little to play with and was way too straightforward to even come close
to rivaling Rutger Hauer's astounding showcase in the original, he was still
entertaining to gawk at. Great tan! Better teeth! And props to Zachary Knighton
for pulling off a likeable and intense performance. If only they had made his
character the lead...
if only. Some of the action was also well staged and executed. Nothing like
tasty eye-candy of cars crashing and toppling over to ease the pain of an empty
film. Finally, seeing Sophia Bush (Grace) in tiny undies always makes me go “yeehaw”
in my seat; so I appreciated that.
All in all though THE HITCHER 2007 was a shamefully safe and simpleton ride. On its own, it dulled down its characters and situation so much, that it turned what should've been a gripping experience into a vacuous one. And when pitted against the original...lol...it was embarrassing. Talk about going full on Albino in comparison! I guess that’s what happens when you try to better a film that you can’t better; you strip it down, do different for different sakes and put out a limp wrist McProduct. Skip this bumper car ride and instead, cruise with class via the original on DVD. Thumb down!