Critic Reviews



Based on 10 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
If you're a fan of revenge fantasies, The Wraith will likely whet your appetite even if it isn't the smartest or best film out there.
The Wraith’s plot is predictable and its genre nods skimpy (primarily limited to The Mystery Racer’s ability to resurrect himself after crashes), but Marvin directs with real energy and wit.
Mr. Cassavetes is effectively black-hearted, and makes a striking figure, and Randy Quaid does a lot with the underdeveloped role of a local sheriff. Mr. Marvin directs at a brisk pace, but his screenplay, though lively, seems to be written in an alien language.
The Wraith is hardly more than it’s surface. The synopsis says it all and there’s very little character development outside of gang leader Packard (Nick Cassavetes, making his parents so proud) being motivated to pound on or murder other guys because they talk, let alone make love, to a girl he likes (Sherilyn Fenn).
Gang of comic-strip killer car-thieves is led by lip-curling psycho Packard (Cassavetes). The town (comprising one house, a burger joint and no citizen who isn't a teenager or a cop) is overseen by Sheriff Randy Quaid, who displays all the reverence the script deserves. Best joke is having one of the thugs know a word like wraith.
The Wraith is essentially a wall-to-wall car chase that writer/director Mike Marvin attempts to enliven with TV commercial visuals, tough-guy dialogue and modestly inventive casting.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
The Wraith reveals itself as little more than formula teen-audience lure. Of some merit to the whole enterprise are two things: the lovingly photographed desert scenery and the hip and lively music score that drowns out most of the turgid dialogue. As far as the acting goes, it's a pity there are no blinds on the screen. [25 Nov 1986, p.D7]
The movie has an absurd script, fueled by that current B-movie staple, the idiot plot--a plot that proceeds only because all, or most, of the characters, act like idiots.
There's some fun potential here, but Marvin's direction is plodding enough to snuff it fairly quickly. Yet Charlie Sheen, promising in his second-banana appearances in Lucas and Pretty in Pink, emerges with his promise intact. Sheen already has the reserved but powerful manner of a Wayne or an Eastwood; with a little more maturity, he could be a contender.
Director-writer Mike Marvin is obviously working out of his element, which consists of ski films and features with titles of things you eat or drink (Six Pack; Hot Dog--The Movie; and Hamburger). The best thing here are the cars, which have no dialog and just stand around looking fast. Sheen's is a specially built Dodge pace car that cost over $1.5 million.

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