The Highwayman

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Breakfast (Jason Priestley) and his partner Panda (Bernie Coulson) were in the midst of just another robbery, but this heist would prove to not only change their lives, but the lives of everyone they come in contact with afterwards. Before the robbery began, Ziggy (Laura Harris) was rejecting her boyfriend’s pleas to advance their relationship, while pondering how to travel to meet her long lost father, Frank (Stephan McHattie). Once the crime starts, the two robbers get their share of loot and prepare to leave, until Ziggy tips them off to where the really good stuff is, and she then chases them down, with her controlling boyfriend (Gordon Michael Woolvet) right behind her. Ziggy feels the crooks owe her a favor for her assistance, and demands a ride to Canada, where she believes her biological father resides. After some discussion, the two pairs, one robbers and one lovers, kicks off their road trip. The man they are seeking out, Frank, is having some problems of his own, having just been fired from his long time job, his wife just walked out on him, and now his new boss humiliated him, as well as framed him for many, many counts of mail fraud. Suffice it to say, the guy has very little to lose, and revenge on his new boss (Louis Gossett, Jr.) is the only thing on his mind. When the two parties meet up, they end up with a car full of people on the run from the law, heading toward uncertain destinies.

This movie is quite a shocker to me, since I didn’t expect much from this flick when it arrived. I mean really, could Jason Priestley help carry a movie? The answer as it turns out, is yes, and the movie itself is superb, a totally wild and exciting film. I am a huge fan of gunplay, so that’s what drew me to this movie, but I didn’t think I’d be treated to some masterful directing as well. Keoni Waxman is hardly a director most people would recognize, but after seeing this movie, I’m seeking out other Waxman films for sure. The camerawork is very good, not relying too much on any one style. Some shots are quick cuts with flashy style, while others remain long and unbroken, whichever fits the mood of the current scene. Other interesting choices emerge as well, such as dabbling with black and white footage, and adding grain to some scenes, both of which add serious tone and impact to the scenes they appear in. As good as the directing is, what makes this movie tick is the writing, which is excellent. Richard Beattie is the responsible party, and he weaves some situations that really keep the viewer glued to the set. The dialogue is outstanding, some of the best I’ve heard in quite some time. I recommend this movie with a very high recommendation, and the disc is a knock out as well, so a purchase would make a wise investment.

While this cast doesn’t have an all star lineup or really even a huge name on the bill, the actors featured are able to carry the film perfectly. While two easily recognizable names appear on the credits, Jason Priestley and Louis Gossett, Jr., these two aren’t known for leading movies, more as supporting stars than anything. And while they are still equal parts of a whole with other actors, the two, especially Priestley, manage to stand out, the performances are so good. Gossett, Jr. (Diggstown, An Officer And A Gentleman) usually plays nicer types, but here he makes the transition to baddie very well. He keeps his sense of humor however, with some funny actions and lines thrown in. Impressing me the most however, is Jason Priestley (Love And Death On Long Island, Calendar Girl), who really pulls off a command performance here. Not all dramatic mind you, but Jason still packs a mean punch here, and he gives the most memorable turn in the lot. I have to give a special mention to Bernie Coulson (Loverboy, The Accused), who truly gives a hilarious and charming turn as the criminal comic relief. The movie would not have been the same without him, no two ways about it. The supporting cast includes Callum Keith Rennie (Last Night, eXistenZ), Stephan McHattie (Theodore Rex, Sticky Fingers), Gordon Michael Woolvet (Rude, Bride of Chucky), and Laura Harris (The Halfback of Notre Dame).

Video: How does it look?

The Highwayman is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. As I mentioned above, the film uses some visual techniques to enhance the image, such as transitions to black and white and some intentional use of grain. So, when these events happen, rest easy, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The colors look good, with bright and rich hues, and no errors crop up either. The contrast levels appear normal, which is an impressive feat, with the lack of light in some scenes. But even in those very dark segments, detail is high, and everything we’re supposed to see is present. I noticed no serious compression errors either, this is a fine visual presentation!

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio is no slouch either, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track powering the experience. While the movie switches between high impact and subtle audio, the volume is always consistent, no remote zapping needed here. When the guns are drawn, you’ll feel right in the middle of the fire fight, and when folks is a whisperin’, you’ll be in on the secret too.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Just when you think this disc has run out of gas, you’ll discover the bonus features, which is also quite good. First up is a running commentary with director Keoni Waxman and actor Jason Priestly, which is informative, but also highly entertaining to listen to. Extensive talent files, the theatrical trailer, and a twelve minute behind the scenes featurette are also included. The featurette consists of mostly interviews, but gives a little look inside the production.

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