Joy Ride

Review Date:
Director: John Dahl
Writer: Clay Tarver and J. J. Abrams
Producers: J.J. Abrams and Chris Moore
Paul Walker as Lewis Thomas, Steve Zahn as Fuller Thomas, Leelee Sobieski as Venna
A dude and his brother are driving cross-country and decide to fool around with a trucker on their CB radio. It isn’t long before their little prank gets someone put into a coma (long story) and the next thing you know, the trucker is following them too. Lotsa nuttiness ensues and then, they pick up their other friend, Venna, a girl who the dude has a crush on. But what’s this…? The trucker is still on their tail and is now harassing all three of the young whippersnappers…? You bet! Buckle up, Dorothy…this is gonna be one bumpy ride!
A good ol’ time at the movies! Here’s a film that actually gives away most of its plotline in its trailer and doesn’t really bring anything “new” to the forefront (if you’ve seen flicks like DUEL and BREAKDOWN, you’ve crossed this path before), but still manages to entertain you gangbusters, with realistic situations, believable characters, funny moments, thrills, chills, the whole shebang. Let’s give it up for director John Dahl, who continues to put out solid films every other year (if you haven’t seen RED ROCK WEST, do yourself a favor right now, and jot it down on a piece of paper and rent it at your earliest convenience). And much like that film, this one has an excellent premise and sets everything up at an even pace. It gives you a little bit of background on each of the main three characters, and then shows you how one small prank, can lead to a whole lotta trouble for everyone! Paul Walker really surprised me in this movie, since I’ve never much thought of him as anything more than a pretty face (and damn, is it ever pretty or what?!) But here, he actually manages to put some depth behind the looks and that’s always appreciated in films in which you are so closely tied to the main characters. Sobieski is also good, but she isn’t in the movie for as long as you’d think, but the man who really takes this film to another level, is Steve Zahn.

If you’ve loved this guy as the “goofball” in most of his previous roles, you’ll appreciate him even more here, as the dude who starts off as one of the most manic and excited human beings I’ve seen in quite some time (“This is so awesome!!”), only to turn into a man scared out of his wits by the end of the flick. And speaking of the ending, boy, does this movie deliver some chilling moments during its final 15 clicks or what?!? The Arrow and I were practically in each others arms (well, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you catch my drift) as each minute brought about another turn of events which in turn, took it all to an even higher level. Once again, kudos to director Dahl for being able to generate that type of intensity, suspense and tension, with a great score, editing, style and camerawork. Plot-wise, I too did wonder how the “bad guy” was able to track them so well, but it didn’t really bother me all that much (you can assume that he had bugged their car?). But pretty much everything else in the story stuck like glue and I couldn’t help but put myself in their shoes and appreciate their thoroughly desperate circumstance. A great movie with an even cooler ending, this film will likely be remembered as one of the better thrillers of the year. “This is amazing!!!”

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Joy Ride



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