with network "neutering," it was still something I couldn't take my eyes off. The eerie, mood-enducing opening, throwing a seemingly random mix of visuals to
start out the story really grabs you -- a lonely car on the open road, a skillful driver with an unknown sense of purpose, and then...a collection of prosthetic parts in his trunk. Very strange. So you're immediately hooked. Jim Caviezel
looks like the dark-haired twin of Ralph Fiennes and is wonderful as the
focused/obsessed hero, out for revenge for the death of his wife, murdered by a serial hit and run killer. Rhona Mitra is a fantastic female lead, caught up in the fury as the killer's escaped victim.
I think one of the best things about this film is that it's so clean and simple -- really lean storytelling, with no "fat". No overly maudlin side stories, no
screaming teenagers running in their underwear -- it's an grown-up suspense
movie that sometimes borders on the supernatural in its eerie moments. It
reminded me of "Seven," with its haunted sense of dread that permeated every
scene. "Highwaymen" doesn't have a specific place or time. The locations are nameless, merely backdrops for the story to really unfold and remain in focus. Without having a sense of place, it gives viewers an underlying sense of
discomfort -- almost feeling lost, that something like this could really happen to anyone, in any place.
The performances are really subtle and well-played. Caviezel and Mitra are
both gorgeous actors who carry off so much with a quiet expression. Caviezel is the strong, silent anti-hero, but doesn't pander to the audience's desire for a clean-cut good guy. His character is flawed, obsessed, and selfish, and yet,
within his obsession is the moral principle to do the right thing. He is
unapologetic and charismatic all at the same time. And a damn fine driver as
well. I was very pleased to see that Rhona Mitra wasn't stuck in a "save me!" victim role; her character has experienced traumas throughout her life, but
remained a strong survivor. You sympathize with her pain, but never think of her as completely helpless -- more like a cornered animal, waiting to attack.
I'm not talking about the killer because I don't want to spoil any of it -- the unfolding of his story is creepy and takes its time to reveal itself.
Definitely give this movie a try. It's not overly gross or gory. Just a really strong, solid suspense movie.