Thursday, February 5, 2015

In short: Midnight Ride (1990)

Whatever mildly diverting powers this competent yet boring The Hitcher variation has can be explained by an excellently over the top performance by Mark Hamill after Star Wars but before he found his true calling as a voice actor and instead spent his time stumbling from one lame low budget film to the next. If you have a script that has clearly no clue about mental illness, and isn’t clever enough to go the iconic serial killer route where you don’t actually talk about mental illness but about the embodied fears and anxieties of a society, the best that can happen to your panto villain is a performance like Hamill’s here, all sweating, wild grimacing and various types of over-active rambling. On the more negative side, Hamill’s overacting makes Michael Dudikoff’s bland asshole hero look even more bland; and clearly, nobody involved in the film seems to actually have realized that Dudikoff’s character’s reaction to his wife leaving him (stalking, cursing, and the threat of violence) makes him not the most sympathetic of characters, to say the least.

Why, a film with a few more brain cells to rub together might have even made something out of the difference between its two male characters only being one of degrees, and made the film the story of how Lara (Savina Gersak) has to fight for her life and her identity on two fronts. Instead, director Bob Bralver pretends there’s moral clarity about who of the male characters is the hero of the piece, doesn’t do much with Lara, and concentrates on blandly competent action scenes and a minor appearance by a particularly sleepy Robert Mitchum earning a bit of whiskey money.

It’s watchable as far as this sort of low budget affair goes, but there are just too many good opportunities that would have needed not money but just a bit of imagination wasted to make for an enjoyable film for me. But then, I never was involved in a car chase against my wife (which might be explained by the absence of driver’s licence, car, or wife in my life, or because I’m not that much of an ass).

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