Creative and ambitious, Highwaymen is an unusual thriller about an unusual serial killer. It’s also a road and revenge movie as well. There will be drama, suspense, action, and even a bit of romance. As you can see, this is quite a potent blend that sets apart Highwaymen from other, similar movies. We will be following Rennie, a man, who after a horrific murder, becomes hellbent not for leather but for revenge. So, you could even argue this is a character study. One thing is, however, certain, Highwaymen is a movie worth watching. Sure, it’s a bit messy but it’s also atmospheric and dark.
Featuring a running time of just over 75 minutes and fast pacing, you can watch it any time you want. At this point, I want to remind you that Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, featuring a similar but much pulpier story, came out three years after Highwaymen. As I get older, I start to appreciate movies featuring cool cars more and more. I mean, the car our main character in this movie, Rennie, drives is a beauty. A red 1968 Plymouth Barracuda looks like it came straight out of Mad Max onto Route 66. 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado also makes an appearance as the car the killer drives.
The movie offers you only puzzling bits and pieces of information at first, hiding the best stuff for the final third. What you’ll get instead are some pretty intense and realistic car crashes. There’s no CGI or any of that fake stuff, just good old stunts. Stunts that feel mighty dangerous and I hope that no one got hurt doing them. The movie takes advantage of this fact and presents us with a creepy, nasty and above all, dangerous serial killer. I don’t want to reveal too much but let’s just say that he’s different. And not just because he uses his car to kill people.
It was a beautiful morning one day when Rennie’s life was turned upside down. From that moment on, Rennie was a man with a mission. A mission to catch a very disturbed serial killer who uses his car as a weapon. He always seemed to be one step ahead of Rennie, viscously toying with his next victims. One of them is Molly, a young woman who barely escapes his death car. Luckily, Rennie is here to save the day and catch this evil man.
There’s almost a sexual component to his crimes although I think power is the prevailing factor. The fetishization of cars and driving is the staple of our modern way of living. It’s fascinating to think about the relationship between power, control, death drive, and driving. With one small movement, you can end your or someone else’s life. When it comes to car crashes and sexuality, I recommend you check out Cronenberg’s 1996 devious and fascinating masterpiece Crash. It’s one of the many nineties movies that left a huge impression on me.
The atmosphere throughout the movie was quite gloomy. We’re not in the noir territory just yet but we’re awfully close. Contributing greatly to it was Jim Caviezel’s rather weird performance. I know he was going to a very dark place, warped by grief and anger but I wish it was a bit closer to reality. Luckily, smoking-hot Rhona Mitra was there to balance things out making the most of her relatively generic character. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Highwaymen check out Joy Ride and The Hitcher.
Director: Robert Harmon
Writers: Craig Mitchell, Hans Bauer
Cast: James Caviezel, Rhona Mitra, Frankie Faison, Colm Feore, Gordon Currie, Andrea Roth
Fun Facts: Footage from this movie was used in Feast (2005)