Platinum Dunes, hot off their successful (but creatively bankrupt) threepeat of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, kept the remake ball rolling by optioning the 1986 cult thriller The Hitcher. The casting of Sean Bean as the title character, originally played by an awesomely creepy Rutger Hauer, was brilliant. The changing of the protagonist from a wimpy emo teenager (C. Thomas Howell) to a sassy young lady (Sophia Bush) was welcome as well since the helpless damsel in distress cliché was worn out decades prior.
Too bad the end result was a big mess.
Young couple Jim (Zachary Knighton) and Grace (Sophia Bush) take a road trip for spring break and come across psychotic hitchhiker John Ryder (Sean Bean), who becomes obsessed with making them say aloud “I want to die”.
The fact that in this remake there really is no motivation for John Ryder’s madness other than the fact that he’s a fucking nutjob really takes something frightening away from the character. In the original it’s hinted at that Ryder wants to die and has been searching for someone worthy of ending his life and kills those he feels aren’t up to the task. When he meets Jim Halsey (Howell) he sees someone who isn’t as weak as he appears to be and becomes obsessed with bringing the boy’s natural survival instincts out from within so that he can finally be put down like the rabid dog he is. It made Ryder interesting and terrifying at the same time. Not so here. Here he’s just a crazy man on a killing spree that for some reason is intent on breaking Grace’s spirit before he kills her. This version of Ryder isn’t scary, he’s Jason Voorhees.
The acting from everyone is pretty bad. Sean Bean seems to be trying his damnedest to give his character some sort of dimensionality but either the putrid script or inanity of director Dave Myers prevents him from doing so at every turn. Sophia Bush is doing her best Ripley impersonation and fails miserably. The less said about Zachary Knighton the better. The only person who comes out unscathed is Neal McDonough as Lt. Esteridge. He has a cool calm that does wonders for his character. I just wish he was in a different movie.
Director Dave Myers is a hack, and there are really no positives to be said about this flick or his talent. Sure he can make a shot look interesting when the need arises, but I’d rather give the credit to cinematographer James Hawkinson. A pretty cool car chase set to “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails is the only part of the movie I will admit that I enjoyed. Events play out basically the same as in the original, only slightly tweaked (Jim is the person ripped in half by the two trucks, Ryder is shot multiple times in the finale instead of just once, etc.), thus making me wonder what the point of retelling this story was if they weren’t going to make any major changes other than the sex of the lead character.
There’s not much else to say. This was a bad remake of yet another movie that didn’t need one and at this point I was going to swear off all future Platinum Dunes films, remakes or not. Unfortunately they chose two properties that I couldn’t resist for their next endeavors… Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Someone shoot me in the face. Please.