Tuesday, 4 January 2011
EXIT SPEED (2008)
Directed by: Scott Ziehl
Written by: Michael Stokes
Starring: Julie Mond, Desmond Harrington, Lea Thompson & Fred Ward
Very cool little action movie cum siege flick that sticks to its guns delivering well paced and punchy action which is bolstered by solid direction and strong characterization. A group of everyday people are on a bus making their way across Texas on Christmas Eve. While out on the open road a band of bikers known as the Nomads torment the bus and its occupants which ends in the death of two of the bikers. The remaining bikers don't take too kindly to this and now fully attack the bus running it off the road into some abandoned buildings, forcing the passengers to barricade themselves in as the unrelenting bikers continue to attack them. The group, including an AWOL soldier, an archery expert and a wayward father among others, must band together and use their resources to fight off the deadly Nomads.
Despite a modest budget, Exit Speed is well put together delivering an almost perfect balance of character and action. While there is the typical angry member of the group who never agrees with the rest and seems only concerned about himself, the script steers away from cliche, the heroes not always the most obvious. Characters deaths are never signposted either meaning it is quite often a shock when people die and all members of the bus are imbued with personalities and vary in age meaning we actually get a group of real people to root for. Also refreshingly, there is no hammy, over-the-top bad guy slowing the action down to be all evil and stuff. The Nomads remain mostly silent and faceless a swarming, unrelenting enemy that pose much more of a threat than a constantly shouting bad guy.
The action is mounted and paced well, the makers creating a real sense that the unlucky bus passengers are fighting for their lives. Nothing too flashy in the action scenes but all delivered tautly including the initial bus being driven off the road set-piece, plenty of gunfire and shotgun blast heavy firefights and unique uses of a bow and arrow and a homemade grenade launcher. With the characters being well rounded this means the girls are is on the action as much as the boys, Julie Mond particularly memorable as the on-the-run soldier. Lea Thompson, Desmond Harrington and Alice Grezcyn give solid support with only the great Fred Ward as the officer hunting down Julie Mond's soldier, underused. Still, great to see him in the film.
It may borrow heavily from Assault on Precinct 13 but Exit Speed is a refreshingly well made, straight laced action/siege movie that is equally satisfying in the character and action departments. Check it out.