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New Line Home Cinema presents
Highwaymen (2003)

"It wasn't an accident, Molly."
- Cray (Jim Caviezel)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 15, 2004

Stars: James Caviezel, Rhona Mitra
Other Stars: Frankie Faison, Colm Feore
Director: Robert Harmon

MPAA Rating: R for some gore and brief language
Run Time: 01h:20m:37s
Release Date: August 24, 2004
UPC: 794043715228
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- C+A-B+ F

DVD Review

Let me preface this review by saying that Highwaymen is inherently dumb. It exists in the kind of convenient, cop-free world where souped up cars can speed and careen wildly unmolested down city streets, sometimes dragging a flaming, upside down car behind them, with nary a sideways glance from anyone. It requires a huge—make that staggering—amount of viewer gullibility to swallow the premise, but if you gag down the fuzzy parts, the remainder is extremely visually engaging, with some highly stylized car chase sequences.

Jim Caviezel, no less than Jesus himself from The Passion of the Christ, plays Renford Cray, a man of so few words I wondered for the first quarter of the film if he was supposed to be mute. Without revealing any more details than are already found on the backcover, Cray is one of those rugged, loner types who witnessed the hit-and-run death of his wife by an ominous 1972 Cadillac Eldorado.

In the first stretch of believability, Cray cruises around the country endlessly in an uber-fast Barracuda, and has dedicated his life to tracking down the psychotic driver of the Eldorado—early on we even see Cray find a small puddle of motor oil that he actually dips his finger in to taste. As we learn in dribs and drabs, the two have been playing a deadly game of cat-and-mouse over the years, with Cray using an array of CB radios to monitor the trail of death that the mysterious driver, known only as Fargo, leaves in his wake.

Cray inadvertently crosses paths with Molly (the absolutely stunning Rhona Mitra), a woman who nearly fell victim to the big Eldorado during one of the film's strongest moments involving a massive chase/crash sequence in a tunnel. Molly is sort of like an open case file that needs to be closed permanently to Fargo, and Cray steps in at first to rescue her before actually uses her for bait to lure his nemesis out for one final showdown.

Highwaymen is directed by Robert Harmon, who has already dabbled in strange and deadly highway scenarios with Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher, and here he piles on a series of car crashes with abandon, and when he eventually gives screentime to the film's villain, Fargo (played by Colm Feore in a role that almost unfortunately demands we never really see him), you are either going to be laughing hysterically or willing to go along for the ride. The unanswered questions and distortions of logic are almost overwhelming, but its packaged in very a slick-looking film that dares you to accept it or move on.

Me, I chose to take the ride, and even with a very short runtime of 80 minutes, I have to say I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Highwaymen contains two separate presentations—one in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (despite being touted as 1.85:1 on the back cover) and the other in 1.33:1 fullframe—with both on the same side of this dual-layered disc. Forgiving the unnecessary inclusion of the fullframe, let's focus on the fantastic job done on the widescreen transfer, in a film that has a very chromatic hue to many of its shots, using steely blue and silver tones extensively. Colors and black levels are first rate, with no evidence of edge enhancement or haloing whatsoever.

This is just another in a long line of impressive transfers from New Line.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: For what is essentially a low-budget film, New Line has offered up a pair of dueling and extremely aggressive audio mixes, available in DTS or 5.1 Dolby Digital surround. With all of the revving engines and car crashes, this is a film in need of a substantive audio presentation, and when there is action onscreen the sound is loud and well-mixed, incorporating rear channels often for the kind of immersion normally relegated to larger films. In a side-by-side, the DTS provided deeper overall sub rumble (Caviezel's Barracuda sounds particularly ominous), and the minimal—and almost unnecessary—dialogue is clear at all times.

A pale-by-comparison 2.0 Dolby stereo English surround track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Butterfly Effect, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Frequency
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: New Line is rather negligent on extras, offering up nothing but a handful of trailers. The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and features optional subtitles in English or Spanish

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Every fiber of my being tells me this is an idiotic movie, but I can't help admitting that amidst all the stupidity I enjoyed it immensely. The story requires a number of leaps of faith, but it is loud, violent, and far removed from any semblance of reality, and shows that Jesus can drive a fast car with the best of them.

New Line has done a terrific job with the image and audio, making this a contender for guilty pleasure of the year.



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