Freeway (1996 film)

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Freeway
Freeway1996poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatthew Bright
Produced byChris Hanley
Brad Wyman
Written byMatthew Bright
StarringReese Witherspoon
Kiefer Sutherland
Wolfgang Bodison
Dan Hedaya
Amanda Plummer
Brooke Shields
Bokeem Woodbine
Guillermo Diaz
Brittany Murphy
Paul Perri
Tara Subkoff
Music byDanny Elfman
CinematographyJohn Thomas
Edited byMaysie Hoy
Production
  company
Multicom Entertainment Group Inc.
Illusion Pictures
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date(s)August 23, 1996 (1996-08-23)
Running time102 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$3 million (est.)[1]
Box office$295,493 (US)[1]
 
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Freeway
Freeway1996poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatthew Bright
Produced byChris Hanley
Brad Wyman
Written byMatthew Bright
StarringReese Witherspoon
Kiefer Sutherland
Wolfgang Bodison
Dan Hedaya
Amanda Plummer
Brooke Shields
Bokeem Woodbine
Guillermo Diaz
Brittany Murphy
Paul Perri
Tara Subkoff
Music byDanny Elfman
CinematographyJohn Thomas
Edited byMaysie Hoy
Production
  company
Multicom Entertainment Group Inc.
Illusion Pictures
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date(s)August 23, 1996 (1996-08-23)
Running time102 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$3 million (est.)[1]
Box office$295,493 (US)[1]

Freeway is a 1996 crime film written and directed by Matthew Bright, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Reese Witherspoon and Brooke Shields.[2] The plot of this film resembles the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Despite being a commercial failure and having censorship problems due to graphic language and violent content, it received mostly positive reviews from critics and has developed a cult following.[3] A sequel titled Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby was released in 1999, but was largely disregarded and released direct-to-video.

Plot[edit]

Vanessa Lutz (Witherspoon) is a poor, illiterate teenage girl living in the slums of Los Angeles. After her mother, Ramona (Amanda Plummer), is arrested in a prostitution sting, she runs away with a stolen car from her social worker guardian to stay with her grandmother in Stockton. Along the way, Vanessa stops to see her boyfriend and classmate Chopper Wood (Bokeem Woodbine), a local gang member, to tell him about her excursion and he gives her a gun to sell upon arriving at her destination. Minutes after Vanessa leaves Chopper, he is killed in a drive-by shooting by rival gang members. A little later, Bob Wolverton (Sutherland), a high school guidance counselor, picks her up after her car breaks down, and promises to take her to her grandmother's house.

Over the long drive, Vanessa comes to trust Bob, and confesses to him the details of her painfully dysfunctional life, including being sexually abused by her stepfather. At one point, Vanessa shows Bob a photo she keeps in her wallet of her biological father. (The photo used is actually a picture of mass murderer Richard Speck.) That evening, Bob reveals his true nature: He is a serial killer of young girls. He tries to kill Vanessa when she refuses to give in to him. The tables are turned, however, as Vanessa eventually pulls out her gun and shoots him several times before escaping.

After leaving the restaurant, Vanessa is quickly arrested and questioned by two detectives, named Mike and Garnet, who write her off as a carjacker, even though she insists Bob had tried to kill her and had told her about his other murders. Bob survives, but the bullet wounds have left him severely handicapped and disfigured. Vanessa is put on trial, with everyone believing that Bob is the innocent victim he claims to be since he has no criminal record, while Vanessa is a veteran of juvenile homes. Vanessa goes to prison, while Bob and his socialite wife Mimi (Shields), who knows nothing of his crimes, are treated like heroes.

Scared at first, Vanessa eventually makes friends in prison, including a heroin-addicted lesbian named Rhonda (Brittany Murphy) and a brutal Hispanic gang leader named Mesquita (Alanna Ubach). Undaunted, Vanessa plots to escape and continue her journey to visit her grandmother. Remembering what her stepfather taught her about life in prison, Vanessa constructs a crude knife from a toothbrush as a weapon. The following evening, Vanessa and Mesquita are being transferred to a new maximum security prison. En route, Mesquita and Vanessa subdue and escape from the prison guards assigned to escort them, Mesquita killing one. After their escape, Vanessa and Mesquita part ways as Mesquita goes off to be reunited with her gang, and Vanessa continues her journey to her grandmother's house.

Meanwhile, detectives Mike and Garnet reexamine the evidence, and begin to suspect that Vanessa was telling the truth. They then search Bob's home, where they find violent child pornography in the locked shed adjacent to the house. Confronted at last with what her husband really is, Bob's wife commits suicide. Arriving home at just that moment to find police cars outside his house, Bob panics and flees to Vanessa's grandmother's house. (In his earlier encounter with Vanessa, he had apparently obtained a photo of the grandmother, with her address written on the back.)

While posing as a prostitute, Vanessa steals a car from a prospective john, and drives to her grandmother's house, which is actually a trailer in a run-down trailer park. Vanessa finds her grandmother dead and Bob waiting for her with a gun. After a fierce struggle, Vanessa kills Bob by strangling him to death. Detectives Mike and Garnet arrive and approach the trailer cautiously with their guns drawn when they hear the commotion inside. Vanessa eventually exits the trailer exhausted after her struggle and the detectives enter to find Bob and Vanessa's grandmother both dead. Outside Vanessa sits in a chair, drained and near her breaking point, when she looks up to ask the detectives whether they have a cigarette. They smile and Vanessa responds in kind.

Cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was received positively by most critics, who lauded the film's hard-edged satire and performances. Film critic Roger Ebert gave Freeway three and a half stars out of four and stated, "like it or hate it (or both), you have to admire its skill, and the over-the-top virtuosity of Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland." It received "Two Thumbs Up" on Siskel and Ebert At the Movies. Joe Baltake of The Sacramento Bee gave Freeway four stars out of four and called it "a wild, audacious drive-in attraction that takes the 'high' from 'highbrow' and the 'low' from 'lowdown' and shakes them up". Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave Freeway four stars out of four and said that it was "rude in the way the truth is rude—only funnier". Margaret A. McGurk wrote for the Cincinnati Enquirer that "I didn't particularly want to like Freeway, but I couldn't help myself. Reese Witherspoon made me."[4]

Censorship history[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Freeway (1996)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Freeway (1996)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  3. ^ http://www.avclub.com/articles/reese-witherspoon-is-a-badass-little-red-riding-ho,91504
  4. ^ McGurk, Margaret. "'Freeway' an old but alluring ride". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Alternate versions for Freeway (1996)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  6. ^ "Rewind @ www.dvdcompare.net - Freeway (1996)". dvdcompare.net. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 

External links[edit]