Friday, August 14, 2009
Review: The Wraith
Synopsis: When a young teen is killed by gang of car racing thugs, he returns as a mystical figure to gain revenge upon them.
Review: This film is the epitome of 80's cheesiness. You've got fast cars, hot chicks, a revenge-fueled plot and Clint Howard (with one of the funniest hairdos ever). Yet, the film has a certain charm that makes you kind of enjoy the spectacle of it all.
Charlie Sheen plays the lead hero, bent on getting back at the gang who murdered him. That's pretty much as far as the script goes, as far as advancing any kind of plot. This of course, leaves many unanswered questions, as a result. Why is Sheen's character given this second chance for revenge? Why race each gang member separately, when he could kill them all at once? Where are all the adults (save the sheriff, played by Randy Quaid)? Why are the police so inept at stopping things, when they know who the street-racing punks are? It seems providing such answers was never a big priority, as most of the film is spent with cars racing (and blowing up), or Sheen's character reconnecting with his old girlfriend. It is obvious that this film is trying to appeal to the 16-20 year old crowd (and adults who still think like them).
Sherilyn Fenn, who plays said girlfriend, provides the prerequisite nudity and damsel in distress required for the story, while Nick Cassavetes is equally adequate as the slimy and somewhat unstable gang leader. Most of the performances are very stiff and wooden, with little in the way of any realistic dialogue or emotion. Very typical of an 80's schlock affair, such as this.
The two areas the film does excel in, however, are the car races and the soundtrack. The cinematography of the cars battling for the dominance of speed are very well done. It is about the only part of the film that will inspire any thrills, which shouldn't be surprising, as some of the crew were killed during the making of some of those scenes. Then, of course, the soundtrack is simply rocking, with some of the biggest metal bands and artists providing that trashy 80's sound. The races and music help the film to keep the pace moving fast, which is probably for the best, as it helps make it more enjoyable and keeps you from focusing on the lack of plot and acting ability.
In the final analysis, "The Wraith" is simply a blend of the average revenge-fantasy and the superficial coolness of youth. Think "Death Race 2000" meets "Death Wish," only with an 80's vibe. It's actually pretty harmless fun, if you allow yourself to simply give in to the sheer inanity of the premise and don't expect everything to make sense. It's a decent way to kill some time, with the empty kind of thrills the 80's usually provided.
Rating: 2 Stars (out of 4)