Review of Transit

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A camping trip was meant to reunite the Sidwell family. When they are hunted and terrorized by violent bank robbers, their very survival will depend on working together as a team to stay alive. Starring Jim Caviezel, Diora Baird & James Frain.
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Movie Review: "Transit" --

Rating: R (violence, terror, brief teen drug use, pervasive language)
Length: 88 minutes
Release Date: April 20, 2012
Directed by: Antonio Negret
Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In "Transit," Nate Sidwell (Jim Caviezel) seems like a man who is truly trying to have it all. He has a wife, Robyn (Elisabeth Rohm) and two sons Kenny (Jake Cherry) and Shane (Sterling Knight). He also had a job that allowed him to provide well for his family, until he was convicted of estate fraud, that is. Unfortunately, that means that he was away in prison for awhile, which causes obvious distrust and tension within his family.

Some movies would be content with this setup, and proceed to milk the volatile family dynamic for drama. Though that might be an entertaining movie by itself, "Transit" has no desire to go there at all. In fact, the family issues are soon to be the least of Nate's problems.

Nate decides to pack up the car with camping gear and take Robyn and the boys on a camping trip. He is hoping that it will help them reconnect and bring them closer together than they were before. The problem is that Marek (James Frain), a hardened criminal, needed a place to stash some money so that he could leave town undetected by law enforcement. He decides that Nate's SUV is the perfect place to stash it.

The family takes off into Louisiana with Marek and his gang not far behind. The three others in the group are the creepy Evers (Ryan Donowho), Losada (Harold Perrineau) and Marek's girlfriend Arielle (Diora Baird), who travel in a car that is reinforced and armored. They lose track of the family at one point, setting up the movie for some of the many action sequences that permeate the script by Michael Gilvary.

After causing a few car accidents and inexplicably getting mixed up in the stunt show of the Louisiana State Fair, Marek and company finally catch up with Nate and family, who are busy having some heated arguments as they try to reach their destination. After finding out that the police have set up a roadblock to find him, Marek realizes he can't wait until Nate gets to the camp site to recover the stolen loot. He has to get it now.

Marek and his gang then go into full-on villain mode by trying to get the Sidwell family to pull over, even if it means causing an accident that could kill them. None of the four of them care if the family lives or dies, they just want to hurry up and get the money.

During the chase, Nate must endure more than most do in action films. Director Antonio Negret makes sure that there are tons of obstacles, both physical and psychological, standing in the way of Nate having the idyllic family outing he had hoped for.

The storyline is somewhat implausible, but most people don't watch movies like "Transit" for the plot. In this film, the plot is simply a vehicle that allows Negret to have lots of pulse-pounding action scenes. The car chases are superbly filmed and edited while the car accidents and explosions are epic. The action is the main thing in the film, so the audience has to suspend its disbelief at the plot in order to really enjoy the movie. If you are a fan of thrillers and car chases, then it won't be hard to put the plot aside and just enjoy "Transit."

The audience at some point is forced to choose whether they want to root for Nate or not. See, he was convicted of the estate fraud, so he is a criminal. On the other hand, he does seem to love his family and there is the suggestion that the fraud charges may not have been all of his doing. Viewers are meant to root for him, but once Robyn finds out about the stashed money, she thinks Nate is a part of the scheme. She has lost so much trust in her husband that she thinks he is still committing crimes, even as they are in a fight for their lives.

The audience having to decide for themselves whether Nate is a part of the scheme is a nice twist. It also enhances the ending, which features a thrilling hand-to-hand combat scene. This is a nice departure from the car-themed violence and mayhem that is all over the film. Is Nate guilty, or will he finally win his family back? All is revealed in the end, although the conclusion is somewhat secondary to all the thrilling action that took place before it.