Friday, 4 September 2009

Silent Thunder




SILENT THUNDER (aka REVENGE ON THE HIGHWAY) (1992)

Directed by: Craig Baxley
Written by: Dennis Shryack & Michael Blodgett
Starring: Stacey Keach, Lisa Banes, Tom Bower & Sandal Bergman

Trucker action movies aren’t too thick on the ground but there are enough of them (Black Dog, Thunder Run, Convoy) to warrant as a sub genre of the action world. Silent Thunder is a cracking bit of revenge on the roads that despite not featuring an over abundance of action, still has enough gear crunching, rig smashing stunts to warrant a viewing. Based on the true story of a father who tracks down the killer of his son on the American highways, Silent Thunder is a well acted, engaging little movie. Stacey Keach is great as the trucker father looking for a fellow trucker who ran down his son late one night on the highway. Said trucker has been leaving a wake of destruction across the roads as he toys with and finally kills unsuspecting motorists with a giant eighteen wheeler.

Keach is his usual solid self navigating the well worn “I didn’t tell my son I loved him” clich├ęs with believability. Along with all the truck smashing it is the character interplay that really keeps Silent Thunder moving. Keach’s character, Claude Sams, is a man driven with obsession to find the killer of his son and this takes its toll on his relationships with his new wife (Banes) and the kindly but realistic police officer who is trying his best (Bower). These characters and relationships are portrayed with a certain amount of realism and maturity. The path’s the characters and their relationships take dont always take the expected course for this type of film and it’s refreshing to see characters talking things out. Tension is also nicely built as Sams continues his quest to the inevitable showdown and the script is peppered with some smart, hard boiled dialogue as Sams engages in as many verbal battles as he does vehicle ones.

The action, when it arrives, is impressively staged involving some very dangerous looking automobile stunts. While the story is based on a true incident and care has been taken to present the characters and situations as real as possible, the action and final confrontation have no doubt been embellished in order to ramp up the drama. Still, the truck set pieces are strikingly staged with impressive stunts on display that belie the fact this is actually a TV movie. Director Craig Baxley knows a thing or two about action (having helmed ace flicks Stone Cold and Action Jackson) and keeps his well shot movie moving fast.

Stacey Keach, truck smashing action, good acting and character interplay: not bad for a TV movie from 1992.

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