Director: Antonio Negret
Writer: Michael Gilvary
Stars: Jim Caviezel, James Frain and Elisabeth Röh
“Transit,” or the more aptly named “Close Ups of Conversations Make Plans Go Poorly,” was better than I expected. Jim Caviezel (“Passion of the Christ”) plays a white collar ex-con trying to bring his family back together on a camping trip. He wants to make some memories and strengthen family bonds. James Frain (“Tron: Legacy”) ruins those plans when he uses the family’s car as a mule to transport some stolen money.
The setup is quick: A big armored car heist gets Frain and his gang four million dollars but, on their way to the coast, police check points threaten to take that from them. In a rash, sweaty, close-up decision, they stash their money in a bag on the rooftop of a rest stop. This bag is on the Range Rover of a family that the filmmakers tell us are really broken up and fractured through exposition. They just don’t show it as well as I’d like until way toward the end, when it should have been building to even worse.
After sweaty, Louisiana close-ups, Frain and his three companions get through the check point, only to realize they don’t know where the Range Rover is going…
The viewer doesn’t fear, however, because Frain doesn’t worry. He is calm through many of the hardships they encounter – to a fault. All of his close-ups (really the whole damn movie is so damn close) show him tranquil and meditative on situations. To his credit, he now only knows the right move to make next, but can also predict the future rather well. He must have read the script ahead of time… that’s cheatin’!
One moist-faced car chase later, Caviezel is pulled over for speeding and exacerbates the situation terribly. Ex-con and 88+ mph makes a tense cop and after a misunderstanding, Daddy ends up in jail. A perfect time for the baddies to strike! They do. They break into the family’s hotel room that didn’t have the money, which is grounds for letting Daddy go from prison. Yup. Didn’t make sense when I saw it either.
The next day, on the surface of the sun, the family breaks down a bit as Mom has to leave Dad on the side of the road after discovering the bag of money. The baddies catch up to the car but, yet again, while they are so close the money is so far. At this point the group of robbers are really starting to break down. Leadership issues stemming from conflicting ideas on decisions are starting to ripple through the group.
Once that is all unresolved and the family is forcefully overrun, we turn back to look for Daddy. If Caviezel is good at one thing it’s taking physical abuse on screen. I was kind of shocked that he chose this role because he takes quite a bit of torture. Head butts, a kick, and an unwarranted finger chop, all in a matter of two minutes raises the stakes. Caviezel bargains: the family for the stashed money. However, a random swamp boater seems to have beaten him to the hidden bag.
Chaos ensues – a lot of it: double crosses in the bad guy group, a dead cop, and two unexpected kills. Caviezel gets shot in the leg and is prodded for classic on-screen pain. Thouché, “Transit,” touché.
After the fun-filled rising action, the family ends up defending the money in a swamp-front shack. The fact they even find the money again is completely convenient and hard to swallow. Mom is a pro with an AK-47 and Dad must have learned how to fight in prison. Again, kind of wacky and hard to swallow.
Let’s see here: baddies lose in epic fashion, family is safe and has made memories that will make them stronger, and money is ultimately destroyed. A pretty damn happy ending for such a dark thriller. And I like that. I am a fan of sad endings with sad songs, sad tears, and sad popcorn, however this redemption story hit me at the right angle and it worked.