Open season on the LA freeway
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/06/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Back in the mid to late 80's, a popular fad emerged in LA (that's Los Angeles to you and me) that involved drivers on the freeways taking pot shots at each other, I suppose as a means to relieve tension, as I've heard the road ways in that area have some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. While I've never condoned such activity, I, as many probably, can certainly relate to the frustration about being stuck in traffic and having to deal with snarled traffic, noodle headed drivers, and endless construction projects (at least in and around Chicago). Freeway (1988), released around the time when the incidents of shootings on the LA freeways seemed at their height, tries to capitalize on the event, rather unsuccessfully, in my opinion.
The DVD case promotes the fact the film was produced by the same people who produced Highlander (1986), and that might carry a bit more weight for me if those same people hadn't also been responsible for the incomprehensible sequel Highlander II: The Quickening. The film was directed by someone named Francis Delia, and a quick check of this person's credits include episodes of Friday the 13th (the TV series...remember that? I do...) and Weird Al Yankovic videos...uh oh...things are not looking good. The film stars Darlanne Fluegel (she was the blonde floozy William Petersen's character would shack up with from time to time in 1985's To Live and Die in L.A.), James Russo (a recognizable B movie actor and graduate of the Mickey Rourke School of Acting and Attitude, has made appearances in mainstream movies like Donnie Brasco and The Postman), Billy Drago (he played Frank Nitti in the 1987 film The Untouchables...he's the one Kevin Costner pushed off the roof), and Richard Belzer, probably most know for his role on the Law & Order: SUV television series as the smart alecky Detective Munch.
The story (such as it is) centers on a character named Sarah (Fluegel), or Sunny, to her friends (since I don't know the woman, I'll stick with Sarah). Sarah is a trauma nurse in a metropolitan hospital in LA, and widowed within the last year as her husband was killed as they were driving on the freeway, shot in the head by a passing motorist. Plagued with nightmares, and the fact that the police have yet to capture the killer, Sarah relives the experience every time another victim of the freeway shooter arrives at the hospital, and the frequency has been increasing. This prompts Sarah to put more pressure on the police, but when that seems to have little effect, she decides to try and track the killer, who has begun calling into a local radio talk show, hosted by Dr. Lazarus (Belzer). She does learn the killer's identity, but soon finds herself in over her head, as the killer learns about her. Will she be able to expose the freeway killer before she becomes his next victim? I won't tell...
Man, this movie is bad. It's something you'd expect to see on the Lifetime Channel, except for a couple of scenes with some very brief nudity and profanity. The story lacks any realism, and asks too much in terms of acceptance of its' audience. Also, there are just no likeable characters in this whole thing. Fluegel's character is somewhat annoying and kind of moronic, as when she's not busy badgering the police, acting all petulant and throwing the occasional hissy fit about their inability of finding her husband's killer (in her defense, the police in this film come off as completely lame and ineffectual), she's playing Nancy Drew researching obvious clues to the identity of the killer. I am not sure when this leaves time for her actual job, as she seems to spend very little time at it, which is completely unrealistic as nursing, especially in a trauma room is an extremely busy and taxing occupation. I loved the scene where Sarah, getting into bed half nekkid, hears a knock on the door, throws on a silky robe, and finds a person she doesn't know (played by Russo, who's been stalking her for some mysterious reason), as he's returning her wallet that he `accidentally' kept in a previous encounter. She seems startled and says, "Oh, I was expecting someone else." Like who? You're half nekkid and trying to go to bed. After some lame banter, he leaves, calls a few minutes later (for some more lame banter), and then comes back, sneaks into her apartment, and they have sex. Sex with a stranger who broke into your apartment? That's always a good idea. Maybe it was his reward for returning her wallet...the killer (the film would have us believe all the LA freeway shootings were done by one individual, rather than just a bunch of fed up motorists) drives around in a late model Lincoln Continental shooting people at random, spouting quotes from the Book of Revelations (the angels tell him to kill the Sodomites, or some such nonsense), eluding the non-existent police force. Where are Ponch and Jon when you need them? The dialogue is the sort of tripe that makes your eyes roll, and fosters contempt in general. The film also features one of the most obvious red herrings I've ever seen, as in the first half we are led to believe the killer maybe be a certain individual, but any reasonably astute viewer will see through this lame attempt. The best part of the film featured a cameo appearance by Clint Howard, as a really sleazy car mechanic..."How long will it take to fix my car?", "Well, why don't you come into my `ahem' office, so we can discuss that, if you know what I mean?"
Anchor Bay Entertainment provides a good-looking wide screen print here, with decent audio, but no special features other than an original theatrical trailer. If you feel you have to see this film, your best bet is seeking it out as rental.