The Last Ride Blu-ray Review
No matter your age, if you have any appreciation for the history of popular music you’ve certainly heard of Hank Williams. A gifted songwriter (and the father of Bocephus himself, Hank Jr.), Williams’ career was tragically a short one when, dealing with a myriad of health problems and an addiction to alcohol, he passed away on New Year’s Eve, 1952. He was only 29.
THE LAST RIDE is an attempt to show the singer on his last road trip. Sadly, it’s a boring ride full of clichéd characters and poor production values. We meet young Silas (James) as he’s working on a car at the local service station. A car pulls into the station and the owner jumps to fill it up. The car owner announces that he’s looking for a driver to work next week. As it’s close to Christmas the station owner declines but Silas volunteers and is told to show up on Monday morning. When he does, he is given the keys to a beautiful baby blue Cadillac and orders to drive “Mr. Wells” to Tennessee. The only order: don’t let him have any whiskey.
THE LAST RIDE is basically the story of two guys on a road trip and all of their mishaps, presented here as adventures. Based on true events (Hank Williams died in the back of his car on the way to a gig in Canton, Ohio. The car was driven by a 19 year old college student named Charles Carr), the film tries too hard in making Williams a folk hero and Silas an innocent young man. First off, the fact that Silas has no idea he’s driving Hank Williams is pretty incredulous. Especially since the film starts off with Silas listening to a Williams tune on the radio. The cast tries hard but with little success. Henry Thomas is at least a decade too old to play a 29 year old. Hank Williams was a hard drinker but he didn’t look 40 when he died. James (yes, his name IS Jesse James) is earnest as Silas. However, he bears quite a resemblance to Thomas which I found off putting. Maybe the two should do a father/son film together. Fred Dalton Thompson makes a brief appearance as does Kaley Cuoco. They lend a little star power but it’s not enough to energize the main characters. And if you’re looking for a new film inspired drinking game, try taking a shot every time somebody uses the word “hillbilly.” I guarantee you’ll never finish the film.
With the exception of the 1952 Cadillac, the production values are also sadly diminished. Whether driving in the sun, the snow or a rainstorm the scenery is drab and dreary. Shots of the vehicle driving down a busy, barren highway are interspliced with interior shots that show forests of trees through the rear window. On the plus side, the film’s musical soundtrack is a collection of some fine songs of the era, including a few covers by Jett Williams, the daughter Hank never knew (she was born shortly after he died). In my opinion, if you really want to see a movie about Hank Williams, check out YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART, which stars George Hamilton. That’s a ride I recommend.
THE LAST RIDE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The film is presented in its original 1:78.1 aspect ratio. The picture is sharp but the colors are muted.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD 5.1, the sound is clear with no distortion when period songs play under the dialogue.
A Look Inside “The Last Ride” (6:24): A short, standard featurette featuring the cast talking about the film and each other.