Since the hit-and-run murder of his wife five years ago, Rennie Cray has crisscrossed America in his souped-up, stripped-down '68 Plymouth Barracuda, pursuing her killer. The man he seeks in a high-speed, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse is James Fargo, a merciless, wheelchair-bound pyschopath. Through a series of mechanical innovations, Fargo has turned his rampaging '72 Cadillac Eldorado into a monstrous extension of his own twisted body and mind. Now, their deadly battle of wits and wills is about to move into overdrive. And caught in their headlights is a tormented beauty who unwittingly holds the key to their ultimate showdown.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
It's been 18 years and a long time in the TV movie/Van Damme C-list wilderness since Robert Harmon screeched onto the big screen with the acrid blend of scorching oil and hot blood that was The Hitcher. With Highwaymen, he's back in the familiar territory of eerie desert landscapes, lonesome blacktop unspooling to the horizon and two men engaged in a dance of death so ritualised and implausible that it's near-mythic. Rennie Cray (Jim Caviezel) is a vengeful fury, prowling the interstates in a battered Plymouth Barracuda as he stalks the hit-and-run killer who brutally murdered his wife five years previously. This deadly game of tag has left his nemesis James Fargo (Colm Feore) a spite-filled human wreck of broken flesh and prosthetic limbs lashed together with harnesses and straps in his customised Cadillac, taunting Cray with newspaper cuttings of his fresh kills. Caught in the middle is Molly (Rhona Mitra), a survivor of Fargo's latest attack and most likely his next target. Harmon doesn't get bogged down in logic and back story for this fusion of Duel and Crash; indeed, his sketched-in biographies for each protagonist feel welded on as an afterthought. Mitra's got nothing to do but look very fetching as she plays buffeted pawn-in-the-middle, but that's okay because Caviezel and Feore are only required to look grim and tormented as they have at each other time and again on the battleground of the highway. It's a tight 72 minutes but the director still takes time to capture the alien mood of the desert, a landscape further imbued with mystery by Mark Isham's effective electronic score. In marked contrast is Harmon's eroticisation of the car, the camera's lingering fascination with the scars of road accidents, wince-inducing moments of impact and the gunning engines pouring from the soundtrack like the howls of coupling dragons. The climax is appropriately downbeat save for a crummy last scene kiss-off and plot holes the size of Arizona open up when you stop to think about it, but this is a movie best enjoyed in the moment.
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