Vanishing Point Charles Robert Carner

Vanishing Point Charles Robert Carner
Richard C. Sarafian's 1971 Vanishing Point is the genre film that could only have been made in the wake of the American counter-culture of the '60s. The main character, Kowalski, instigates a 36-hour police car chase across two state lines without any narrative motivation. The character, whose past is only hinted at through oblique flashbacks, acts as an allegory for post-Woodstock counter-culture in America, allowing Kowalski to interact with the dregs of various counter-culture movements before reaching his tragic end. The film is a bit like Easy Rider, if Easy Rider had a bunch of awesome car chases. This 1997 TV remake gives the film a massive ideological shift. Instead of lamenting the death of left-wing counter-culture, it replaces the hippies and nudists of the original with Second Amendment-loving, tax-evading libertarians. The driver in this film, Jimmy Kowalski (a pre-Aragorn Viggo Mortensen), is no longer an enigmatic cypher, but is instead a good, uncomplicated man who runs away from some cops so he can see his wife at the hospital before she gives birth. Of course, just by speeding he's not really hurting anyone, but by refusing to stop for police and by crossing state lines (New Mexico to Utah this time, avoiding of those stinking coastal liberals), he brings the FBI into the chase as well. The injustice of a federal agency spending resources on preventing a man from seeing his wife then allows several characters to froth at the mouth about "big government" and the lack of freedom in their once-great country. This film is alternately racist, ignorant, preachy and poorly made. The most egregious character is "the Voice" (played by Jason Priestley, embarrassing himself with a handlebar moustache his charisma can't match), an Alex Jones-esque radio host who mythologizes Kowalski on the radio, lamenting his persecution at the hands of an overreaching federal government. One wonders what drew writer/director Charles Robert Carner to the source material, given that he scrubs Guillermo Cain's original screenplay of anything of interest, and one can only assume that his love for American muscle cars crosses the political spectrum. Vanishing Point is presented in a full-frame aspect ratio (as per its original broadcast on Fox), and the only special feature on the DVD is its trailer. (Anchor Bay)