Christopher R. Witherspoon's Movie "Rage"
Inspired by the 1971 Steven Spielberg movie, Duel, Rage is a high speed thriller that successfully combines suspense and violent action. Released in 2010, the movie features a high intensity chase that manages to keep the audiences on the edge of their seats. The good old suspense in the movie keeps you guessing as to what would happen next.
Directed by Christopher R. Witherspoon, Rage opens in a quaint suburban neighborhood. Dennis Twist (played by Rick Crawford) is talking to his wife, Crystal (portrayed by Audrey Walker) and is planning to go to the city to sort out some business. The couple seems to have a perfect life with Crystal being an interior decorator and a devoted wife. Dennis himself is a professor at a local university and an unsuccessful novelist. However, his life and those around him is completely going to change after his little trip.
This visit to the town does start to bring out the reality of the perfect family portrait that has been painted till now in the movie. As it turns out, Dennis had been insisting on visiting the city because he has a girlfriend there. However, only this time he has realized that he wants to be with his wife and taking this trip to put an end to his affair.
However, before this important meeting happens, a seemingly insignificant encounter sets the stage for the violent chain of events that were to follow. In his hurry to end his illegitimate relationship, he takes a motorcyclist’s parking space and does not move. This unintentional move on his part provokes the biker. He is creeped out by the biker (played by Christopher Witherspoon himself!) entirely dressed in black, but snubs it as he has more important matters at hand.
He does end his affair with his girlfriend. But, there is another piece of the puzzle that comes to light here. She warns him about her ex-boyfriend who has recently been released from prison. After this, his own hell of a journey starts. The biker, who can only be classified as completely insane, goes all out to make Dennis suffer, for a trivial parking space. It all starts with the regular road rage that ranges from following him and then cutting his path, with steep turns at stop lights. However, this does not end there. Dennis is badly beaten and his car’s brakes are also cut off. He is followed to his house, where a brutal blood bath ensues. Dressed in black clothes, jacket, boots and a tinted helmet, the biker does have an intimidating personality. His mysterious looks only add to his terror. Crawford also recalls his conversation with his ex-girlfriend and is convinced that he is the biker and he is taking revenge for the affair. However, that remains a mystery till the end.
The movie maintains a steady pace in the beginning, which slowly increases as does the gravity of the situation. A seemingly harmless altercation between two men spirals out of control into one of the most gruesome stories in the Hollywood. All the actors have performed well, especially the protagonist, Dennis Twist. Rick Crawford has been successful in portraying the various moods and emotions of the character. From being a cheating husband and a cocky man to a scared and desperate person running for his dear life, Rick has pulled it off meticulously. The movie also features a violent rape and therefore, is not suitable for all audiences.
Though the movie is one of the better ones in its genre, there are certain potholes that exist. Sometimes the characters’ actions in the movie seem to be counterintuitive. No one really actively seeks external help in this film. There are a series of dangerous situations in the movie and the characters do have the opportunity to escape but they don’t. Although the movie is set in a suburban area, suitable traffic and noise is not present. So, if somebody would cry out for help or if an assailant smashes a window, it is highly unlikely that no one will hear. There are also some holes in how the killer is calm and walks around slowly, when he stands the risk of letting people away in a residential neighborhood. But the biker does not seem to be bothered by that. Also, the biker does get his own share of injuries, but is perfectly fine after a while. That does not seem natural at all.
The climax of the movie also does not stand well against the tension that was created in the entire movie. The entire chase in the movie creates a perfect build up to the climax. However, the gory blood bath in the end seems to be a little made up. For once, there was no need for so much violence. Also, the character of Dennis, whose survival instinct kicked in the movie, just seems to give up at the end. He watches people being tortured around him, but all he manages to do is beg. He does rise to the occasion in the end, but it is too little too late. There is definitely a final showdown in the end that is quite interesting.
Rage is actually quite enjoyable. It has a very simple plot and reminds you of the 70s thriller or horror movies. There is no scene in the chase that you can pick and edit. All the scenes are perfectly placed and serve their intended purpose. The music of the movie also plays its part beautifully. It adds drama and suspense to already dark scenes, making the movie better. You have to stand up and tip your hat for Christopher Witherspoon here for accomplishing so much with one movie. From directing a thriller in a miniscule budget, he also managed to write and edit the movie. He was also responsible for the cinematography, sound and visual effects. The commendable part is he managed to pull it off.
Christopher Witherspoon has himself spoken about Duel and the Halloween series being his biggest inspirations for the movie. The director certainly does not disappoint and that has been proven by the large number of awards and nominations that the movie has received. It is a movie worth its time, but be mindful of the fact that it is certainly not for the weak-hearted.