A fictional road trip between one of the actual greats of country music and a wet-behind-the-ears Alabama good ol’ boy who serves as his driver makes for rather prosaic drama in Harry Thomason’s The Last Ride. From the title alone and one’s own scant knowledge about country music celebrity Hank Williams, there’s not much to surprise the viewer about the movie, but with its wall-to-wall music and some decent performances, this low budget little love letter to a country legend isn’t half bad.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 43 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/04/2013
Tasked with driving country star Hank Williams (Henry Thomas) under the alias of “Mr. Wells” from Alabama to Charlestown, West Virginia, Mobile grease monkey Silas Cobb (Jesse James) is ill-equipped to keep the notorious bad boy of country music from drinking, drugging, and chasing women. Courteous to a fault and ignorant not only about music but also about the identity of his passenger, the nineteen year old does the best he can to honor Mr. Wells’ requests while still doing his job the best he can. But Wells is stubborn about getting what he wants and is in such bad shape physically from a hard life of partying and nonstop work that Silas has his hands full dealing with his demands, navigating the endless seventeen-hour trip in wintry weather, and learning some hard lessons about life due to his own inexperience in the ways of the world.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
The film’s micro budget is most clearly seen in the rather pathetic special effects work which has been used to attempt to simulate icy and snowy road conditions (we see that green trees are clearly visible in the background, and there is no build up of ice and snow on the roads, the other cars, the trees, or anything else). There are also continuity problems occasionally with a large purple bruise on Silas’ face that is somehow completely gone by film’s end, for example. Since this trip actually never happened, it’s surprising that screenwriters Howie Klausner and Dub Cornett didn’t make the off-road excursions more wild and woolly to juice up the movie just a bit. Hank makes eyes at a couple of girls and dances with another man’s ex-wife at a honky tonk (which leads to the film’s sole fight scene) while Silas has a very sweet, innocent encounter with a female gas station attendant that doesn’t go beyond a peck on the cheek. Yes, Hank gets an injection of something (handled off screen), and there’s some reckless driving and Silas’ first trip in a chartered prop plane during a storm which causes him to turn green, but all of the antics are really tame and underwhelmingly dramatic. The film’s best moments, of course, come from the simple communications between the two men who during the course of their two days together get to know each other well enough to forge something of a bond that gives the film’s expected ending something of a momentary emotional impact.
The two stars of the movie have it mostly to themselves. Henry Thomas is certainly older than the 29 years that Hank Williams was when he died, but as the man’s wild ways had greatly aged him by the time of his demise, Thomas’ age (not that bad actually) is easily explained away. He doesn’t have much charisma as the legendary star, and he doesn’t really sing or play during the movie, but perhaps his star power had ebbed considerably by the time we get to meet him here. Jesse James is the film’s breakaway attraction. With that southern politeness that seems genuine and charmingly naïve to just about everything bad about the world, James’ Silas is a lovable creation which the actor milks for all it’s worth. Fred Dalton Thompson has a few scenes huffing and puffing as Williams’ manager who must explain away one missed date after another to irate promoters, and he’s predictably solid and dependable. Kaley Cuoco as the momentary romantic interest who catches Silas’ eye does well as an only slightly more experienced young person. Stephen Tobolowsky, Ray McKinnon, and James Hampton make worthwhile albeit brief appearances along the way.
The film has been framed for Blu-ray at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The image is pleasingly solid without seeming outstanding in any way. Sharpness is well above average, and color saturation levels are adequate with slightly pale flesh tones (though it is supposed to be winter after all). Black levels are adequate but no more. Contrast is slightly milky perhaps to suggest an earlier time period (1952). The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix affords its greatest efforts toward surrounding the viewer with sound with the practically non-stop country music that punctuates the soundtrack. There are some good split sound effects occasionally, but most of the sound activity is directed toward the front channels. The dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4/5
A Look Inside The Last Ride (6:24, SD): an EPK featurette for the movie featuring Henry Thomas, Jesse James, and Kaley Cuoco basically telling the plot of the film and describing their experiences in making the movie.
Special Features Rating: 1/5
Promo Trailer: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
A sweet but dramatically lax bit of historical fiction, The Last Ride features an interesting byplay between its two leading actors in a road trip story that’s a mostly unexceptional journey.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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