Retro Review: Joy Ride

Whoa! What a rush! A semi-trailer truck slams into the side of your car and you scream into your CB radio. There is a “squelch” and a thick dark voice beckons; “Now that’s what I call fun!”


This is just a taste of what the new 20th Century Fox film “Joy Ride” is all about. “Joy Ride” stars Paul Walker (of “Fast & the Furious”) and Steve Zahn (of “Out of Sight“) as two brothers who meet up during a road trip to Colorado. Lewis (Walker) is reluctant to pick up his brother during the road trip.

He is driving “half-way” across the country to pick up his girlfriend, Venna (Leelee Sobieski), who is attending college in Colorado.

Lewis’ cross-country plan is temporarily thwarted when he has to pick up Fuller (Zahn), his older troubled brother who has just been released from prison.

The road trip turns into a nightmare when the brothers play a joke on a lonely trucker known only as “Rusty Nail”. The joke turns into a harrowing struggle of psychotic revenge as the trucker unleashes his wrath.

“Joy Ride” is one of those films that will captivate you from the opening fifteen minutes. It’s a heart-pounder that doesn’t disappoint.

This movie mounts the tension and flays you alive. You twist, cover your eyes and it’s amazing how it even makes you laugh in key moments as well. Like “The Hitcher (1986)” and “Breakdown (1997)”, Joy Ride ranks among these pure adrenaline thrillers.

Paul Walker gives a naïve leading man performance that works well with Zahn’s mischievous brother. Their chemistry and dialogue in a lot of the long car conversations is priceless in making this film as work as well as it does. We could really hate the brother but we see the brother through Walker’s eyes and no matter his flaws we still love the shmuck. Also Zahn has perfected the “shmuck” persona over the years. Zahn is a perfect casting choice in that he really knows when to inject humor thus enticing the audience back into the film. As for Sobieski, she isn’t really explored until the second half of the film but she becomes a key in the film’s plot.

Anyone who has seen “the Hitcher” knows about the scene involving the girl (Jennifer Jason Leigh) between two trucks. Joy Ride pays homage to the scene with a moment of its own. The execution of it is flawless just like in “Hitcher”.

Placing the stars aside, the true magic of “Joy Ride” is the amount of tension that the movie lets course through your veins.

You become apart of the experience and you feel with these characters.

The only way that this movie could have been more shocking was if it was presented in IMAX format. That would be literally unbelievable.

Buckle that safety belt, grasp those arm rests, kiss your honey and hold on because “Joy Ride” could be the best psychological thriller this year.

4.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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