Ride (2018)

It’s saying a lot when you finish with a movie and the best thing you can say is “Well, at least it was a short movie.” At seventy six minutes in length, “Ride” is never quite sure what it wants to be. It tries to be this thriller about a villain kind of bringing two people out of their shells with violence, and then other times it feels like some goofy drama with a thriller bent injected in for the sake of broader appeal. Really it just feels like writer and director Jeremy Ungar loves that segment from “Fight Club” with the convenience store worker and decided to extend it in to a feature film.

Jessie T. Usher plays James, an aspiring actor and driver for a taxi service named “Ride” who picks up Jessica, the girl of his dreams one night. Played by Bella Thorne, the two hit it off and Jessica invites James to a club for some drinks. Deciding to work a bit more before approaching her again, he picks up Bruno, thinking it’ll be a quick ride. But things get complicated when Bruno convinces James to pick up Jessica for a party in the city. But soon things spiral out of control, as Bruno proves to be an unhinged maniac with a gun, who plans to take the pair for a rough ride through LA. “Ride” is a goofy, pseudo-existential dramatic thriller that rips off “Collateral” and “Fight Club” almost wholesale.

Writer Ungar really wants to make a statement, the problem is he never quite seems to know what kind of statement he’s making. We’re supposed to view these characters as unfulfilled and longing for more substance in their lives, the problem is Ungar never explores those ideas. The movie is not even ninety minutes in length and breezes by on gratuitous exposition in the opening, expecting us to view it actual character tension. By the time the movie cranks the tone up to a bonafide thriller, “Ride” only has about a half hour left in its run time, and Ungar brings us through some dull antics by this alleged maniac. If that’s not enough, we never really get a sense of who or what Bruno is. Is he a serial maniac who terrorizes unfulfilled young people?

Is he someone seeking revenge? Did he break up with his girlfriend? Is he actually some kind of anti-hero in his own mind? Also how are we supposed to at least come to an understanding to what Bruno is implying with James and Jessica and their lives, when we barely get to know them at all? The movie spends more time propping up Bruno’s potential menace, than it does filling us in on who James and Jessica are. When we see James he seems pretty content and getting by, but we’re filled in on all these undertones of sadness and hunger for success that is never clearly indicated or explored. So it all feels like it’s ripped out of thin air. If anything Jessie T. Usher and Bella Thorne are good in their respective roles, and Ungar’s direction is eye catching, “Ride” is just a dull, bland, drama thriller in desperate need of at least half hour of narrative, and better ideas.

In theaters and available on VOD and Digital HD October 5th.