Henry Thomas won America's hearts with his portrayal of Elliott in Steven Spielberg's classic film E. T. Now 30 years later he is still making movies such as the new film The Last Ride in which he plays a character based on the legendary Hank Williams. His face is still recognizable but he has matured and in this film shows a manly grace he has not shown in previous efforts.
The movie starts out with the focus of the film being on a young garage worker named Silas (Jesse James). The time is 1952 and the place is Montgomery, Alabama. Through a series of events Silas is asked by a man named Stan (Ray McKinnon) to drive someone from Montgomery to West Virginia. He has to be there by the next night in order for Silas to get paid, and he has to arrive sober.
So begins a road trip for the two men. Silas has no idea who the man in the back seat is. He has been told to call him Mr. Wells or Luke. He knows he has something to do with music, as a guitar case is part of the luggage stashed in the trunk. As the miles add up the alliance between the mystery man and his young driver becomes a friendship, with each of them looking after the other.
Thomas gives a multi-faceted performance as Mr. Wells. This man is at times cruel while at others kind and generous. It is hard to keep up with his mood changes but Thomas does this while always making him likeable underneath the surface. It is a role perfectly suited to Thomas' talent and he makes the most of it.
Opposite him is the equally talented Jesse James. James has a "James Dean" like quality in the look and attitude he projects for this film. Silas is a total innocent and this is revealed as his conversations with Mr. Well's reveal more and more of his personality. If enough people see this film it could be a star making role for young Mr. James.
Ray McKinnon once again turns in a solid performance as the roadie who is ready to rid himself of a problem. Fred Dalton Thompson has a few good moments as Mr. Wells' manager who encourages Silas by phone along the way. The only weak member of the cast is Kaley Cuoco who plays a young woman Silas encounters at one of their stops. Somehow she cannot make the character believable.
The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.
The Last Ride perfectly captures the sense of time and place of this story. The two lead performances give the film depth, while Director Harry Thomason manages to keep the film interesting from start to finish by keeping the pace of the film at just the right speed.
I scored The Last Ride a backroads 7 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper