Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Hitcher (2007)

It's Not Terrible - Thanks To Sean Bean

- I did not particularly enjoy The Hitcher (2007) but, then again, I am really not a big fan of the horror genre in the first place. There seems, to me, to be little story and few developed (or even tolerable) characters in horror films - most of the genre seems be exist as an excuse for watching people get murdered, which is not exactly a big draw for me. Plus, the only thing that American horror films have been able to do recently is remake foreign or other horror films from the past. The Hitcher definitely falls under the latter category (a remake of the 1986 cult classic) - but, for being a remake, The Hitcher is not a terrible film; one particular positive acting point is its saving grace.

The story is a very simple one: two youngsters (Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton) run into a dangerous hitchhiker killer, John Ryder (Sean Bean), who has it in for them for about an hour and a half. While one certainly cannot fault a film for having a simple story (sometimes simple is best), the one featured in The Hitcher has nothing of substance (unless one counts the flimsy teen love story) and any scene that does not feature someone dying or blowing up just exists to curb all of the violence into what is hopefully a cohesive story.
Naturally, this does not lead to much in the way of good dialogue or character development, and the lack of these elements does not help the film out at all. The first quarter or so of the film starts off on the right foot as the story is set up; however, everything goes downhill very fast with all sorts of sense-lacking progression of events for the last three quarters of the film, paving the way for some truly mindless and over-the-top violence. None of the violence or action is poorly handled, plenty of money was obviously funneled into the film for its many professionally-executed special effects, but it just lacks quality, style, and excitement and, because of far-fetched nature of the violence within the story, it is kind of hard to fully enjoy.

Then we have a sub-standard cast that does what they can with the material but are not of a high enough caliber talent to do much with it in the end. Sophia Bush is quite the looker but puts a lot of overly forced emotion into her role, Zachary Knighton is unmemorable in a frankly unmemorable character, and Neal McDonough has a few good scenes but then gives you a kidney punch to the back with some really cringe-worthy moments.

Just about the only thing that keeps the film afloat is Sean Bean's impressive performance as John Ryder. Bean has had some practice with being the only good thing in a bad film here and there throughout his career (National Treasure (2004), for example) and, in the case of The Hitcher, Bean's significant amount of screentime manages to prop up the film above the "awful" marker, simply immersed in the crazed killer part, working with a good American accent, and being nothing short of menacing even when his character is forced to do and say some things that would normally look and sound very stupid.

So say what you will about the overall film, and I will probably agree with you, but Sean Bean is an absolute malicious film delight from beginning to end, standing tall as the lone worthwhile element in this 2007 remake.

CBC Rating: 5/10

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