Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Hitcher

Movie Name: The Hitcher
Year of Release: 1986
Director: Robert Harmon
Stars: Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn, John M. Jackson, Armin Shimerman, Gene Davis
Genre: Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
View Trailer

"The Hitcher" was the feature length debut for director Robert Harmon. Working from a crackling and enigmatic script from the talented Eric Red (who collaborated with Kathryn Bigelow in both "Near Dark" and "Blue Steel"), the film has become a cult classic from the 80s, featuring iconic performances from Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film focuses on the story of young Jim Halsey, who has been hired to drive a car from Chicago to San Diego. During his drive, and in order to stay awake, Jim takes in a hiker by the name of John Ryder. John turns out to be a dangerous individual, one who has killed multiple people, and Jim is next on his list. Jim manages to kick him out of his car, and from that point on, he and John form a harrowing relationship, with the latter pursuing Jim, wanting him to stop his actions, as John sees him as his ultimate foe. It takes every ounce of resourcefulness and sheer will from Jim to not go insane and battle that persistent and unstoppable force.
"The Hitcher" was received with a mix of reviews upon its release, but it has since then gathered a cult following. It's a film that is tight in terms of narrative arc, one that pitches this charismatic figure of evil, versus a young man, a personification of innocence, someone who has to fight for all that he loves, and ultimately his own life, to overcome this tremendous challenge. It's also a film that is very well directed, with Robert Harmon allowing for the actors to create these enigmatic characters, who are thrown into a truly challenging and dramatic situation. Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh both create memorable characters, the cinematography from John Seale is stunning (he went on to win the Academy Award for Anthony Minghella's "The English Patient"), as is the score from the underrated Mark Isham. A very good film worth watching and revisiting.