The movie opens with four friends sitting in a fast car on a cross country road trip. There is laughter, glee and the movie looks like it will be a teenage romp. Looks can be deceiving.
As we listen to their conversation we learn that the car is stolen. Okay, so maybe this going to be Thelma & Louise or Joy Ride. Then the plot thickens.
Their car screeches to a halt as we see a car blocking the road. A man is standing outside the truck trying to flag someone down. They think it is okay until a little girl’s head pops up in the back seat wearing a SARS mask.
First time screenwriter/filmmaker team, Alex & David Pastor deliver an interesting opening with building tension from the opening frame to slight revelations and eventually the film’s plot.
I was hooked on this movie from the start.
The film’s actual plot is that these four friends are escaping a pandemic like SARS that has wiped out 80% of the population. We learn about the rules of keeping safe and the question is who will make it to the safe haven. It is kind of like Zombieland with no zombies and no sense of humor.
The movie stars Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) as the oldest couple of the friends. Then you have Lou Taylor Pucci (The Informers) and Emily VanCamp (Everwood) as the younger couple.
Chris Pine is really good as an older brother/leader of the pack. He has that same charisma that was oozing off him in Star Trek and in Bottle Shock. He takes charge of every scene and is the only reason to watch this movie. He is a bonafide movie star!
The surprises in the movie come from the credible performances of Lou Taylor Pucci and Chris Meloni. Pucci starts off as an innocent in the movie and as his character grows so does his performance.
It is a nice coming out of his shell performance. Meloni, from TV Law & Order SVU, delivers a haunting performance as the man they run into on the highway and how he has to deal with his little girl.
Piper Perabo & Emily VanCamp looked bored in all of their scenes. Neither played a strong female character that was needed for this genre. This was a sleepwalk for them and the movie suffers. Yes, there are one or two moments where the girls get in touch with their acting chops but really they felt empty and DOA.
The movie fell apart for me in the third act. It is just silly and the ending felt like what a clown has say to a little kid when he runs out of helium for his balloon animals, “Sorry kid, but that’s all.” Then the kid shoots the clown with a gun.
I felt gipped.
3 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer