Black Dog

Nashville Scene

DIRECTED BY: Kevin Hooks

REVIEWED: 05-11-98

Until Ben Stiller confessed to a desire to drive the big rigs in Flirting With Disaster, it had been a long time since Hollywood acknowledged the American fascination with truck drivers. That long national nightmare is officially over with the release of Black Dog, an unabashed and unironic throwback to the days of Convoy, with some Speed-style camera work tossed in by way of updating.

Patrick Swayze is all jawbone as Jack Crews, ex-con, who doesn't let his lack of a driver's license get in his way when his boss suggests a run from Atlanta to New Jersey carrying contraband. He's got a wife, a daughter, and overdue bills, so he's determined to make it up the coast despite the efforts of Red (a scripture-spouting Meat Loaf) to hijack the load. Meanwhile, an apoplectic FBI agent (Charles Dutton) tries to ease Crews' way up the road so the buyers can be nailed when the load is delivered.

If you happen to be dateless on a Saturday night, Black Dog is for you. It's the whole package, tractor and trailer. Hot downshifting action! The tense thrills of the interstate weigh station! The terror of the steep grade! And after seeing Black Dog, I now understand what makes a driver truly great: a Zen-like mastery of your cab, and the ability to make cars, trucks, and motorcycles alike explode into gigantic fireballs when they touch your vehicle.

Black Dog is enjoyable as the pure, undiluted essence of the Hal Needham-vintage 18-wheeler epic--which makes it hard to fathom what studio executives were thinking when they green-lighted something so utterly retro. Are they trying to rebuild the Southern drive-in network? Is there a plot to revive CBs? What is Gabriel Casseus doing in a role probably written for Ice Cube? Just be glad Black Dog slipped past the taste censors and rumbled into your town, and pony up your dough before a certain radioactive monster clears its diesel fumes out of the multiplex.

--Donna Bowman

Capsule Reviews
Black Dog
Black Dog
Black Dog

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