Saturday 30 September 2023

Movie Review: Joy Ride (2001)

Genre: Thriller
Director: John Dahl
Starring: Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski
Running Time: 97 minutes

Synopsis: California-based college student Lewis (Paul Walker) embarks on a drive to Denver to reconnect with his childhood crush and maybe girlfriend Venna (Leelee Sobieski). He detours to Salt Lake City and bails out his always-in-trouble older brother Fuller (Steve Zahn). The brothers then use a CB radio to pull a cruel prank on truck driver "Rusty Nail", which ends with one man in hospital. Lewis and Fuller admit their role in the debacle and continue their journey, but Rusty Nail has revenge on his mind, and Venna becomes a target.

What Works Well: Co-written by J.J. Abrams, this variation on Duel offers a few touches of humour, some effective shocks, a polished visual style making best use of a monstrous evil truck, and a willing cast. The contrast between brothers - Lewis serious, Fuller a restless man-child - generates engaging interplay, and the endless open road at night paves the way for a few effective moments of peril.

What Does Not Work As Well: The antagonist (voiced by Ted Levine) remains an undefined across-the-radio presence, and most of the plot details fail the basic scrutiny test. 

Conclusion: Despite a clunky load, roars down the highway with some style.

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