Let me just go ahead and let ya in on this film’s secret… it’s not kidding around. This 2007 remake of the 1986 thriller gets in and out very quickly. I didn’t realize just how short it was, but got a clue that it was going to be a quick view when the thrills start like ten minutes in. While it is short, there’s a hell of a lot packed into this hour and twenty minutes, and one thing’s for sure: you’ll never be bored, not for one minute. While there are some flaws, mainly in the beginning, overall I had a lot of fun with this.
We open with Jim (Zachary Knighton) picking up his girlfriend Grace (Sophia Bush) from college for a spring break trip. As they’re driving along, talking about how much her friends will love him, they swerve and almost hit a hitchhiker. Jim wants to get out and help him but Grace is spooked and convinces him to keep moving. Well wouldn’t ya know it…. they stop for gas just up the road and end up coming into contact with this guy and agree to give him a lift. Then, as you might guess, the thrills ensue….
The only issues I had with this exist within the first ten minutes. There’s two things that made me think this was gonna be garbage. One is the very first scene, where the title comes in. The film opens with a shot of a road and a jackrabbit hopping along, then right before the title flies across the screen, the rabbit is suddenly run over and killed. My issues with this is that one) it was done in a really cheap/fake looking way and two) it had zero impact. You want the very first scene to be somewhat of a grabber, and this was not that.
The other big issue was the writing. The dialogue was just really lazy and then got cringeworthy when Jim is speaking with the gas station clerk and there’s some (attempted) comedy. The clerk is obviously attracted to Grace and does this really painful backwoods redneck schtick, and the lines fall so flat that you’re just like ok I know what you’re trying to do but it’s not working so abandon ship.
Thankfully, after the first ten minutes those things are no longer problems and that’s when the film turns it up to a ten. The first huge positive this has going for it is the amazing visuals. I loved the way this was shot, it has a very slick look to it all. The only scene that doesn’t come off incredible visually is the very first one, but other than that, perfect visuals. The action scenes are filmed beautifully, especially the numerous car chases and crashes. They carry this high octane thrill to them that works. The second win here is the cast and the performances they deliver.
Sophia Bush really impressed me, she commands the screen and brings a strength to her character. I liked her in John Tucker Must Die, but here she gets to come out swinging and flex a muscle I hadn’t seen from her. Zachary Knighton does a good job as well, he doesn’t have the same impact as Bush but nonetheless delivers. And the chemistry between these two is off the charts, just effortless. Sean Bean, who seems to have a knack for playing villains, gives a performance that on one hand is menacing and effective and then on the other, seems very stereotypical. Bean is the only one here that I’m mixed on, but he did illicit the proper reaction from me when he needed to.
Having never seen the 1986 original, I wasn’t sure what the plot surrounded. I thought it would be this cat and mouse thriller, but instead it turns out to have a larger scale than that. I liked the larger scale direction it went in because it allowed for a lot of very intense sequences that boosted everything.
The Hitcher (2007) is a wild, fun ride to be on and you hardly have time to stop and think while you’re on it. Yes, there are some flaws, but I had a lot of fun with this slick thriller. I’d definitely suggest this for your thriller viewing and hey people who love short run times will be worshiping this film.