RIDE is a thriller starring Bella Thorne, Jessie T. Usher, and Will Brill, directed by Jeremy Ungar. It is a serviceable movie with serviceable performances and while I believe both of the romantic leads turned in likable performances, I can’t really say that I was thrilled at any point.

RIDE is well filmed, the cinematographer – Rob Givens is good, but it seems like a somewhat meandering update of a few films set in Los Angeles with the Ride, a stand in for Uber or Lyft, concept as the update. The cinematography is the best part and it hearkens back to the work of Michael Mann, especially Collateral – in both cinematography and plot, and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. In previous reviews, I wished I had taken more time to discuss the work of the DP and I will now take that this opportunity to say that it was the best work of this movie. Derivative, but good.

As for the writing and plot, as I noted before, it owes much to many other films that have come before it. The main difference here is that instead of a hit man, the villain is a unhappy, possibly mentally ill man who has taken this moment to become a murderous player of head games that aren’t particularly surprising. While I also believe that the main character’s reactions to the game playing are realistic, most people avoid fights and a gun is usually enough to force compliance with most humans, I couldn’t help but think to myself, really you guys, why are you letting this Jeremy Renner looking dude run all over you? I had a hard time trying to feel empathy for any of the characters because I was mostly thinking about the next reference point that was supposed to be familiar and comforting or make me want to high five my seat mate in the theatre. At one point a very famous cinema reference comes up and it seems like it is there for no other reason to point out how cool and daring the movie is for referencing it. It is from a classic seventies film and one of the more chilling director cameos on record and it just made me sigh heavily and roll my eyes.

Bella Thorne and Jessie T. Usher’s characters both have little to no agency and putting all of it together with ending leads me to believe that Will Brill’s character is actually the protagonist and where the writer’s sympathy lies. It is perhaps a nod to the classic seventies anti-heroes, but it doesn’t really make any sense as the character is really an execrable person with no real purpose other than to kill and mind game people ham-handedly. Again, judging by current events, I can’t say this is unrealistic, but I can’t really get behind the pop nihilist glamorization of it all.

Can you watch this movie and enjoy it? I guess you could. Should you watch it or could you find better ways to spend your time or cinema dollars? Yes, you definitely could and I would encourage you to do so. It’s a good looking shell of better films with an undertone of the glorification of stalker creeps who can’t take no for an answer. We all deserve better than this.

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