out of Five
Running time: 84
Entertaining, fast-paced, pulpy thriller enlivened by colourful performances, a decent script and a hefty dose of violence, though it mysteriously neglects a couple of obvious opportunities and has the occasional unintentionally laughable moment.
What's it all about?
Directed by Antonio Negret, Transit stars Jim Caviezel as Nate Sidwell, a white-collar ex-con who's attempting to reconnect with his wife Robyn (Elisabeth Rohm) and two sons – teenage Shane (Sterling Knight) and younger Kenny (Jake Cherry) – by taking them on a road trip to a camping holiday. However, when a gang of vicious armoured car robbers (James Frain, Harold Perrineau, Ryan Donowho and Diora
Baird) stash their recent haul among the family's camping gear, the Sidwells find themselves hunted and terrorised, unaware that they are carrying a $2 million cargo.
Caviezel makes a solid lead and there's strong support from a colourful supporting cast, particularly Rohm (who plays Robyn slightly tougher and less sympathetic than the role traditionally demands), Frain and the always reliable Perrineau, while Diora Baird (who's slowly becoming something of a cult genre actress) is good value as Arielle, whose haul-stashing brainwave sets the plot in motion.
Negret maintains a suitably fast pace throughout, augmented by some slightly over-the-top editing. He also gives the film an enjoyable exploitation vibe that's reminiscent of forgotten classics of the threatened-on-the-road genre, such as Jonathan Mostow's Breakdown or John Dahl's Joy Ride. On top of that, he orchestrates some enjoyably shocking violent moments and stages an impressive climactic shoot-out.
That said, considering the film's obvious affection for exploitation movies, it mysteriously wastes two glaring opportunities for greatness, namely a) establishing prowling crocodiles during the bayou scenes but neglecting to include a croc attack scene (the finale is crying out for one, to the point where you wonder if the effects budget wouldn't stretch to a plastic crocodile) and b) a catfight between Baird and Rohm's characters.
Similarly, some of the film's implausibilities veer into unintentionally laughable territory, such as when one of the characters walks away from a brutal car crash and accompanying explosion with nary a scratch.
A handful of flaws aside, Transit is something of a guilty pleasure, thanks to a pulpy script, some impressively staged violence and strong performances from a colourful cast. Worth seeing.