hitcherrating-3.0Yes, the original. I haven't seen the remake.

This isn't a deep film. I can see why they remade it, though I heard the remake was bad. This isn't a good movie either, but the remake and the original seem to be excellent in the same way. The remake is apparently a tour de force of Sean Bean's bloodthirsty brilliance. The original is a Rutger Hauer one-man show, existing only to show off what a bad-ass he is. They have this much in common.

C. Thomas Howell, often underrated, plays the silly young man who picks up a hitchhiker and you get to watch as his grueling litany of (someone unbelievable and often unforgivable) mistakes continues for one hour and fifteen minutes before he finally clears his name and prepares for the inevitable showdown with Hauer, who manages to annihilate everyone else in the movie without chewing a single piece of scenery.

Eric Roberts couldn't have done that. Nor Malkovitch or Kingsley or any other character-acting demagogue. His slightest sneer is worth 1,000 Willem Dafoe mental breakdowns and that's why people watch this movie: he's frightening because he's not. He's a normal man who does horrible things because he can and because it amuses him. And that's enough.

Howell does his best to keep up and, despite all the silly mistakes, hardens up and gives us the manly ending we desire, with the appropriate stand-off. And Hauer manages to become The Terminator, an unstoppable juggernaut whose path of destruction cannot be contained or stopped by any means. Much like the Terminator, we hate to see him go, because, fuck, he's way cooler than our heroes. Who doesn't want to root for that villain?

Now I just have to see Sean Bean try to out-Rutger Rutger. Because I'm sure it's a thing of beauty.

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