Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sounds Like: Road Killers

How many random actors can you mix together into one film?  This film tries to tackle that question in an interesting way.  For starters, the film stars Christopher Lambert, the man who everybody knows from Highlander.  The villain of the film is Craig Sheffer, a person that you might remember from both Turbulence 2 and 3- just as different characters.  Next up, we get Christopher MacDonald aka the bad guy from Billy Madison.  Sure, why not?  You might as well throw in a young Josh Brolin too.  Okay, I was kidding.  You aren't going to put in Joseph-Gordon Levitt aka the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun and 500 Days of Summer now too, are you?  Fine- be that way.  Just for that, I hope you include David Arquette, the star of Ready to Rumble.  I should probably stop taunting you, now.  So yeah, this movie is kind of like The Hitcher, but with a dash of Death Wish too.  Enjoy.  Get out your Bonnie & Clyde style shoot-out for my review of...
Two pairs of people are driving around in the desert.  Amongst those people are Lambert, Levitt and MacDonald.  By the way, if you really want to stretch reality to the max, cast Lambert as the uncle of Joseph-Gordon Levitt!  Seriously, how am I supposed to buy that?  Levitt is hanging out in the middle of the road for some reason at one point and nearly gets run over by some men.  Why?  Well, his character is deaf and doesn't hear the cars.  Don't worry- this plot point doesn't amount to much as a whole.  Anyhow, the group- which also includes Lambert's wife and daughter- stops at a diner for some lunch.  They run afoul of the same men- including Sheffer, Arquette and Brolin- and they don't exactly apologize for what they did.  They go to leave, but the dad gets really upset by them.  Despite everyone's pleas, he challenges them to a game of 'Chicken.'  Gee, this won't turn out to be tragic and devastating.  Sure enough, he loses and his car crashes.  In a drawn-out and dramatic scene, he is not able to get out of the burning wreckage and he dies.  Way to get out of the film in the first twenty minutes, Christopher!
Lambert takes the death of his brother about as well as you would imagine.  He confronts the men- despite his family's pleas- and tells them he is going to get them arrested.  Immediately following that, he slowly turns his back on them and walks away.  Yeah, he gets clubbed in the head.  The group of villains split up, Sheffer and company taking the others hostage- since I guess they couldn't drive away- and Brolin being sent out to dispose of Lambert's body.  He proves to be far more cowardly than dangerous, however, and fakes shooting Lambert in order to shut up his berating girlfriend.  Well, men have done worse things for women, I guess.  With the rest of the gang, they have the family held hostage and, well, do nothing with them.  Why did you kidnap them again, guys?  Lambert eventually recovers from his beating and non-shooting & goes looking to call for help.  When a blood-soaked man shows up in a diner asking for a phone, would you let him?  After threatening the people- always a good call, Lambert- our hero ends up in jail.  He pleads with the Sheriff to help him out and save his family.  When he describes the titular 'road killers,' the guy leaves Lambert alone.  You're good at your job.
As it turns out, the guy is actually going off to stop the criminals himself.  It ends up about as well as it did for the Sheriff in The House of 1,000 Corpses.  During this part, we also get to learn a little bit about the so-called 'road killers.'  Arquette's character is a Rain Man-style guy, but he's not actually a savant in anything.  Yeah, I don't get it, but whatever.  Lambert escapes from the jail by knocking out the Deputy- so that's who did it!- with the aid of a fellow prisoner.  We get a fight/shoot-out with the villains, but they escape.  At some point, the guy who helped Lambert actually turns on him, although I'm not really sure why.  Yeah, I was kind of zoning out- sorry.  We get a great bit of shooting and driving before Lambert puts the safety of his family over revenge.  Stupid person and your logic-based compassion!  Sadly, Arquette's character is killed too.  Oh darn, I will miss him ever so much.  In the final showdown, Sheffer and Lambert slow-motion.  Yeah, don't try to make your film arty in the final five minutes, movie!  Lambert ultimately beats up Sheffer by slamming him onto the hood of a car and drags him along the road until a train hits it.  Ha ha- you just killed a guy!  The End.
This movie is surprisingly-dull.  The plot is simple enough to work and there is some good action.  The key problem is, like many films, the pacing.  They drag it all out for too long without a real point.  It's neat to see the villains actually have conflicts with each other, even if it never really goes anywhere.  This is also one of the few films to use David Arquette in a way I like- as a guy who gets killed.  Seriously, the only film of his I can stand is Hamlet 2- where he mostly has an extended cameo.  Most of the acting is good, although I should note that Brolin is miles away from his current acting level.  You wouldn't watch this film in 1995 and think 'that guy is going to end up being really good in  Cohen Brothers film at some point.'  His character actually has more than one-dimension, which is a plus.  Unfortunately, this movie did not live up to its potential for me.  I mean, you have what's basically The Hitcher, but with a group of killers...and it's less effective.  Mind you, none of the killers are played by Rutger Hauer, which is important to note.  As it stands, it's a decent action movie that doesn't accomplish much more.  It is a strange cast to look at though.
Next up, Sound Like Week concludes with the first of two movies with the same title.  How do extreme sports and super powers mix?  Stay tuned...

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