The night is dark and stormy, the New Mexico road twisty and rain-drenched, the college cuties tired and distracted when a man appears out of the gloom, silhouetted in the headlights of his disabled car. Sensitive Jim (Zachary Knighton, of TV's short-lived Life on a Stick) swerves and brakes and reaches for the door — the guy might be hurt. Savvy Grace (Sophia Bush, of TV's One Tree Hill) has a bad feeling about the situation and tells him to floor it — they can call for roadside assistance later.
Of course, common sense and good decision-making are the death of white-knuckle thrillers. So when the college cuties stop at an isolated gas station and run into the mysterious motorist, Jim agrees to drive him to a nearby motel. It's only 15 miles north, and the stranger — John Ryder (Sean Bean) — is such a good sport about them nearly running him down; only some paranoid wuss who's seen too many scary movies would find his smile wolfish or his self-deprecating remark that he wouldn't give himself a lift portentous. But before you can croon "There's a killer on the road," Ryder has made the opening move in the sadistic cat-and-mouse game that will leave a trail of gore-spattered corpses in Grace and Jim's wake and convince the state police they've got a pair of natural born killers on their hands.
While screenwriters Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt tweak Red's richly pulpy screenplay without improving it (notably with a shopworn gender switch), the film's real Achilles’ heel is the cast. Bean carves out his own modest variations on the theme of John Ryder-on-the-storm, but Bush and Knighton are so blandly forgettable that it's hard to believe that they're the protagonists and not Victims No.1 and No.2. — Maitland McDonagh leave a comment
First-time feature director Dave Meyers' tedious remake of Robert Harmon and Eric Red's lean, mean nightmare machine, in which icily malevolent hitchhiker Rutger Hauer gives high-strung brat packer C. Thomas Howell and brittle Jennifer Jason Leigh a guided tour of hell's highway, sticks close to the story but strips away the mythic allusions and subtle subtext that give the 1986 original its resonance.