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.