Even in 1986, The Hitcher‘s cautionary tale about the perils of picking up roadside strangers—a rebuke to the preceding flower-power generation’s trusting altruism—was largely outdated, its point having already been made more forcefully a full decade earlier by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. At least music video vet Dave Myers’s remake is smart enough to recognize that only nitwit 20-year-olds and devout Christian families might still be liable to offer hitchhikers a ride, though that acknowledgement doesn’t stop this Michael Bay-produced update from being just as wholesale ridiculous as its source material, which itself is chiefly memorable for letting Rutger Hauer furiously fly his psycho freak flag. For this do-over, Sean Bean turns out to be a suitable Hauer replacement, as the blond Englishman is similarly adept at cold-hearted, sadistic nastiness, yet his madman’s supernatural villainy is the prime component in the film’s across-the-board nonsensicality. Abercrombie-sexy couple Jim (Zachary Knighton) and Grace (Sophia Bush) have their Spring Break vacation ruined after reluctantly giving a lift to stranded motorist John Ryder (Bean), who quickly establishes himself as a monster intent on tormenting the duo—and slaughtering any cop that gets in his way—until they agree to kill him. Or, at least, that’s what Ryder’s motive seems to be, since the screenplay’s overriding preoccupation with setting up implausible scenarios via moronic character behavior prevents it from ever properly explaining what Ryder’s problem is. The fiend repeatedly accomplishes unbelievable feats of evil while Jim and Grace make every wrong decision afforded by their situation, a state of affairs that, despite Myers’s jolt tactics, leads to no scares but to a couple of lunatic set pieces, the finest of which finds Ryder taking out three patrol cars and a police helicopter with a single handgun while driving a black Trans Am to the sound of Nine Inch Nails’s “Closer.” Nonetheless, the slickly shot film’s scripting is so deliberately illogical and its performances are so blandly forgettable that it almost makes one miss the original’s C. Thomas Howell…if, that is, it were humanely possible to miss C. Thomas Howell.
Great skin tones, especially on the hillbilly with the ridiculous tan line working at the store the film's twentysomething love birds first chat with Sean Bean's John Ryder. The film isn't exactly menacing though it's not for the audio track's lack of trying.
A collection of eight deleted scenes culminates with a pretty ridiculous alternate ending in which Sophia Bush's Grace beats John Ryder to death with her gun instead of shooting him straight through the head. A featurette that focuses on the elaborate process it took to tear Zachary Knighton in half begins with a scenic tour of the actor's ass crack. Another explains how the makers of the film got all that metal to fly during the chase sequence between police and Grace and Jim. Rounding things off is a run-of-the-mill making-of featurette, two fake news reports that would never have made sense within the context of the film, and a series of previews.
Michael Bay tarnishes the memory of another horror classic with an unnecessary remake.