Thursday, August 25, 2016

Film Review: Joy Ride (2001)

Joy Ride (Review)
United States/2001
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"... an incredibly suspenseful, exciting, and frightening thriller."

On a road trip from Colorado to New Jersey, three young friends are harassed and stalked by a trucker after pranking him...

Joy Ride is a film with a simple but effective concept. University students Lewis (Paul Walker) and Venna (Leelee Sobieski) prepare to head home for summer vacation. Instead of flying home, Lewis offers to drop by Venna's school and drive her home – and she agrees. Lewis' plans are derailed when he has to bail his brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), out of jail. Unfortunately for Lewis, Fuller is a bit of a douche. Being a douche, Fuller decides to agitate a trucker over a CB radio – a trucker who ends up being a vicious killer. So, the friends are relentless pursued by the trucker. Simple, right? It's all very effective, though. It leads to a very strong ending, too.

Joy Ride is a great movie. I mean, it's a film that I really enjoy. It has its fair share of flaws, so it might be best to call it a 'guilty pleasure.' So, let me get the little issues out of the way. Joy Ride is often a contrived film. It relies a bit too much on Fuller's arrogance to push the movie forward – at times. Sometimes, things arise naturally; when that can't happen, Fuller is there to make it happen. Fortunately, none of the plot contrivances spoil the film. Joy Ride is an incredibly suspenseful, exciting, and frightening thriller. It's the type of film that can captivate you from beginning to end thanks to its masterful tension. Hell, even though Fuller is occasionally annoying, the characters are likable most of the time as well, which is always a plus.

Paul Walker is great in this role. He's mostly acting as Paul Walker, but it's not bad. Steve Zahn was also good. He's a bit overdone here and there, but he was really fit for the role; you can see the terror in his (very) wide eyes in some scenes. Now for the worst part of the film: Leelee Sobieski. Leelee is boring in this film. I mean, you could replace her with a cardboard cutout of herself and have Paul Walker dub her lines in his 'girly' voice (which he uses in the film, for those who haven't seen it) and you'd still get a better performance. The film is written by J. J. Abrams and Clay Tarver and directed by John Dahl. Abrams and Tarver do well with the simple script and Dahl masterfully weaves several suspenseful scenes together. I'd say the direction really made up for some of the writing shortcomings.

Overall, Joy Ride is a great movie. It is a simple but suspenseful thriller. It's an edge-of-your-seat thriller – there's no better way to describe it. If you're looking for something fun and exciting, this is it. It's certainly better than the sequels.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, some brief nudity.

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