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"THE HITCHER"
(2007) (Sean Bean, Sophia Bush) (R)

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QUICK TAKE:
Suspense/Thriller: A young couple tries to avoid a homicidal hitchhiker who won't let them be as they travel across New Mexico.
PLOT:
Grace Andrews (SOPHIA BUSH) and Jim Halsey (ZACHARY KNIGHTON) are young lovers who are driving through the Southwest on spring break. While not paying attention during a rainy nighttime leg of their trip, they nearly run into a man standing in the middle of the road next to a stopped car. Screeching to a halt, Grace pleads for Jim not to get out as the man spooks her, so they take off, only to later encounter that man -- John Ryder (SEAN BEAN) -- who asks for a ride to the nearest motel. Grace isn't so sure, but Jim agrees, although his decision proves to be the wrong one.

That's because Ryder is a homicidal maniac who subsequently carjacks them. The two manage to fight him off and kick him out of their moving car, only to later encounter him again in a family's station wagon. Trying to warn them of the dangerous man inside their car, Jim and Grace end up crashing, only to then find that Ryder has killed the mother and son and badly wounded the father. Racing to get that man help, Jim and Grace have another encounter with Ryder who seems intent on terrorizing rather than killing them, resulting in the young couple being mistaken by the local police as cold-blooded killers.

That is, except for Lieutenant Esteridge (NEAL McDONOUGH) who doesn't think things add up. As Ryder's killing spree allows Jim and Grace to escape, they flee in hopes of eluding the lunatic, all with the police on their tail and Esteridge trying to figure out the real story.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
This is an unnecessary, redundant and flatly made remake of the 1986 film of the same name that featured Rutger Hauer sadistically toying with C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Here, Sean Bean does his best Hauer impersonation, while Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton do little to engage and thus make us care about their plight as Bean's homicidal maniac kills everyone but the two of them.

We never know why (except for the fact that's what happened the first time around, and if he killed them there'd be no more story), which also holds true for the villain's uncanny ability to track them down and suddenly appear most anywhere they've fled.

If anything, the film -- which generally follows the original's plots with a few changes -- proves that music video director Dave Meyers (whose only feature film credit before this is 1999's Eddie Griffin comedy "Foolish") is no Steven Spielberg or James Cameron when it comes to helming enthralling, cat and mouse style chase flicks.

When compared to their fabulous "Duel" and "Terminator 2," this looks even worse than it already is. Rogue Pictures didn't screen this film for reviewers until the night before it opened, so we're still working on this part of the review.




Reviewed January 18, 2007 / Posted January 19, 2007


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