This movie is relentless and kinda’ hard to watch as it just goes on and on with no end in sight. Jim Halsey is on a cross-country trek to San Diego when he picks up a hitchhiker in a torrential downpour. The hitcher, John Ryder, isn’t the friendliest guy and starts to say odd things and claims that he killed the driver of an abandoned car that they pass. Jim starts to worry that he has made a mistake and takes the opportunity to shove John out of the car. It seems as though Jim has dodged a bullet but he is soon overtaken by a car with a family in it and sees Ryder in the back of their car. Jim tries to warn the family but wrecks his car and drives off the road. Further down the stretch of road, he encounters the family’s car that is soaked in blood and it seems as though Ryder has killed them as well. Jim then encounters Ryder at a truck stop, he tries to corner him but Ryder leaves after setting fire to a gas pump.
At this point though, Jim finally decides to contact the police and pulls into a roadside diner. He tells the police what has happened but they suspect that Jim is actually the perpetrator since Ryder has remained elusive and they found his knife in Jim’s pocket. Jim panics and takes the two responding police officers hostage and just when they convince him to surrender, Ryder shows up and kills them. This turn of events leads to more car chases, narrow escapes and all the while, Jim is becoming a wanted man.
Nash, the waitress from the diner is the only who believe Jim and helps him flee the police and try to stop Ryder. Finally, Ryder is apprehended by the police and Jim’s name is cleared. It doesn’t stop there though, Jim doesn’t trust the police to keep Ryder in custody and he tracks them down to kill Ryder.
It’s a gruesome, gritty, action-packed ride and one can’t help but feel exalted when Ryder is finally killed. Rutger Hauer plays the role of Ryder with stone-cold, sadism and it’s nuts. Definitely a classic!
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