THE HITCHER (2007)
Directed by Dave Meyers
Produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller
Written by Eric Red and Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt
Director of Photograpy James Hawkinson
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Cast: Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton, Sean Bean, Neal McDonough
200/84 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
2.40:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Universal Studios Home Entertainment DVD
Until recently, I was divided over the whole remake movement. On the one hand, I can't understand why anyone would want to mess with a classic film. On the other hand, I see movies all the time that contain an interesting premise and could have easily been better movies with a little tweaking here and there. But, in the past few months, I've watched TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING, THE GRUDGE 2, and BLACK CHRISTMAS, and I began to think that the remake trend has gotten out of hand. Now that I've seen THE HITCHER, I've decided that that remake think must stop now.
THE HITCHER is a remake of the 1986 film of the same name which starred C. Thomas Howell and Rutger Hauer. In this updated version, Grace (Sophia Bush) and her boyfriend Jim (Zachary Knighton) are traveling cross-country for Spring Break. On a rainy night, the come across a man standing beside a vehicle on the side of the road. After swerving and nearly hitting the man, they decide to leave the scene rather than help him. While stopped at a gas station, the man, who introduces himself as John Ryder (Sean Bean), suddenly appears, accepts Jim's apology and asks for a ride. Embarrassed, Jim obliges. Not long after, John pulls a knife on Grace, revealing himself to be a rather twisted individual. Jim and Grace are able to rid themselves of John, but he begins to doggedly pursue them across the flat terrain of New Mexico. Killing anyone who gets in his way, John will stop at nothing to get Jim and Grace.
THE HITCHER is yet another one of those frustrating remakes which doesn't stray far from the original, but still pales in comparison. The original THE HITCHER wasn't the greatest movie ever made, but it was a decent action/horror vehicle and could have easily used some punching-up in the story department. Essentially, it was a one-note movie. Well, the writers of the remake, Eric Red (who wrote the original), Jake Wade Wall (who wrote another craptastic remake, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS), and Eric Bernt, have tweaked a few things, but the main story is left intact...but somehow the result is a pretty bad movie.
In both films, John Ryder is an enigma. We don't know who he is or why's he's determined to kill our protagonist. In many ways, he seems bent on killing the main character's, but at times, he also seems to be only toying with them. In the original, the fact that we know nothing about Ryder and his motivations actually made the film creepier and gave it a mysterious edge. The man appeared to torment people solely for the sake of doing it. In the remake, this lack of information is nagging and makes the film annoying. This comes down to the performance of Sean Bean. Don't get me wrong, I like Bean and I think he's been great in other roles, but he approaches John Ryder in the wrong way. I don't consider Rutger Hauer to be a great actor, but he brought a disconcerting charm and sick humor to John Ryder that made the man seem even more unstable and dangerous. Also, it helped us to understand why anyone would pick him up in the first place. In the remake, Bean portrays Ryder as cold and humorless. He's more like THE TERMINATOR than anything else. He exudes no personality whatsoever and his character is simply there as a motivation for Grace and Jim to constantly flee. When Bean is on-screen, he has little dialogue and may as well have been the masked killer from any slasher film.
The fact that the villain doesn't work really hurts the film. Thus we have a movie where Jim and Grace are constantly on the run and after a while, it's difficult to care about what happens to them. This film does a better job of making Ryder's ability to be where Grace and Jim are a little more believable than the original, but the film slowly devolves into a series of episodes where Grace and Jim confront Ryder, and get away, and then confront Ryder...
Like so many modern remakes, instead of simply being a better film than the original, this new THE HITCHER attempts to be a bigger film. This is no doubt an influence of producer Michael Bay. The movie contains several stunt set-pieces which are admittedly impressive. There's an outlandish scene involving a red pick-up truck which I must say made me jump. But, these cool car-crashes can't fill the void left by the uninspired script. The movie does contain some gore, but it's nowhere near as violent as the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remakes which Bay also produced.
The 2007 version of THE HITCHER is a movie which will disappoint nearly everyone. Fans of the original will find much of that film transposed here (including the most infamous scene from the original), but this movie has none of the personality of the 1986 film. Those unfamiliar with the original will encounter a stupid movie which seemingly makes no sense whatsoever. I don't know if modern audiences will buy the zen-like lack of explanation in the film. I guess I still understand the motivation to remake some movies, but if you see this HITCHER approaching, just keep driving.
THE HITCHER jumps in the front seat of DVD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has come to DVD in two separate versions, one widescreen and the other full-frame. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as the picture is sharp and clear. There is essentially no grain, nor are there any defects from the source material. The film has a de-saturated look, but the colors are fine. The desert landscapes look great, as the image has a nice amount of depth. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track scores a knock-out with surround sound and subwoofer effects, as the action scenes provides non-stop sound from the rear speakers and the subwoofer. The car-crash scenes are nearly home theater demo worthy.
This DVD contains a few extras. There are 8 DELETED SCENES, which run about 23 minutes. This is nothing 100% new here, as most are simply alternate or extended versions of existing scenes. There are three separate, but similar version of the motel scene. One scene was clearly altered for its graphic content. The alternate ending is, again, slightly different, but have the same outcome. "Dead End" (13 minutes) has the guys from KNB explaining the planning of the film's most horrific death scene, while we also see the actor preparing for the scene. Then, there is on-set footage of the scene being shot. We get an in-depth look at the film's stunt-work in "Road Kill: The Ultimate Car Crash" (10 minutes). "Fuel Your Fear: The Making of THE HITCHER" (11 minutes) is the standard Electronic Press-Kit entry with comments from the cast and crew and some behind-the-scenes footage. Finally, "Chronicles of a Killer" (5 minutes) are fake newscasts which address the events from the film. Were these supposed to appear in the movie?
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2007. ©