Jim Caviezel as Rennie
Rhona Mitra as Molly
Frankie Faison as Macklin
Gordon Currie as Ray
Colm Feore as Fargo
Paul Mota as State Trooper Longo
Highwaymen is a decent story that sputters towards the end. A limited release by New Line doesn’t help, either.
Five years ago, Rennie watched in horror as a homicidal driver deliberately ran down his wife on a highway. Now his life is consumed with pursuing the murderer across the US as he continues to randomly run over women pedestrians. Unable to rely on the police for help, Rennie tracks the killer on his own.
The killer’s latest target is Molly. However, when she is able to escape his attempt to kill her, he continues to pursue her to finish the job. Molly’s only hope is Rennie as he steps in to save her. But can she truly trust Rennie or is he as insane as the murderer himself?
Highwaymen is rated R for violence, some gore and brief language.
Highwaymen started out with a handicap even before it played on the screen. You see, New Line is only releasing this movie in a limited number of cities. Houston (where we are based) was one of those locations. Typically the only explanation for such a limited release is that the movie sucks. Fortunately, though, Highwaymen isn’t quite that bad. It does have problems, but not so many that the movie wasn’t salvageable and that it should be doomed to limited release. I’m kind of baffled by New Line’s move.
The first half of the movie is quite strong and the plot is engaging. It’s your typical tale of revenge with Rennie chasing his white whale, the killer in the other car. The premise has an interesting setup as we see Rennie slowly stalking his prey and learning everything about him. This eventually leads to some cool car chases, some scary moments where the killer attacks the women, and other disturbing scenes. What made it scary was that it was all plausible. This movie will make you think twice about stepping off the curb. That is what makes it all the more scary. However, late in the film things begin to fall apart. More on that later.
The acting isn’t great, but it isn’t bad either. Jim Caviezel plays Rennie, a character very far removed from his role as Jesus in The Passion of Christ. The only way Caviezel could be more opposite would be if he were in drag. (I also wonder why New Line didn’t wait to release this movie until AFTER the hype hit for The Passion of Christ. It would have helped Highwaymen.) Caviezel mainly broods and looks intense most of the time, but that’s what his role called for. It didn’t allow him to do much more. Rhona Mitra adds a pretty face as Molly, but otherwise she doesn’t stand out.
Early in the movie you get the feeling that you’re in for a new take on The Road Warrior. With cool muscle cars and a lot of speed, I was waiting for one of the best car chases ever made to take place. That never happened. The chases ended up being fairly good, but not as great as they potentially could have been. Maybe the budget limited this.
What Didn’t Work:
The biggest problem with Highwaymen is the bad guy. Through half of the movie he is a mysterious figure that we never see. We are left with our own imaginations to come up with what he might look like. When he is finally abruptly and unceremoniously revealed, you’ll find your imagination came up with something probably cooler than what you’re seeing on screen. The homicidal maniac ends up being a guy in a neck brace with a prosthetic arm and leg in an electric wheelchair. He’s hardly intimidating and it makes you wonder how he’s able to fix a car, wrestle Rhona Mitra, and even buy groceries in the state he’s in. When he appears on the screen, the audience I was with was laughing hysterically when they weren’t supposed to be. Up until that point they had really been into the story, then this lame bad guy came on and the movie fell flat. I think if New Line had tinkered with maybe three or four scenes and dropped the electric wheelchair, he would have been a lot cooler. Instead you have this as the final result and you begin to see why they are doing it in limited release.
There are a few other plot holes and pot holes in Highwaymen, but you get the idea. It was a potentially really fun movie that just doesn’t come together in the end.
The Bottom Line:
Highwaymen has a lot of potential but it fumbles at the goal line. That being said, it’s still probably worth a rental at the video store.