Directed by Stephen Fingleton.
Starring Moe Dunford, Joana Ribeiro, Gerard Jordan, Ciaran Flynn, John Travers, and Stephen Rea.
Nightride is a real-time, one-shot thriller about a dealer trying to pull off one last job in order to go straight.
There’s no denying you have seen the plot for Nightride at least 100 times before. Directed by Stephen Fingleton and written by Ben Conway, the film is centered on drug pusher Budge (Moe Dunford of the recently released Texas Chainsaw Massacre direct sequel, here getting a chance to show off body language range and a mounting intensity) who assures his girlfriend Sofia (Joana Ribeiro) that after this last deal he is out of the drug trade and that he will be starting up an autobody shop with his money for their future.
The twist is that Nightride is also a tense one-take film (there do seem to be hidden cuts occasionally, although I can’t say for sure, but I can say that it’s impressive regardless) similar in execution to last decade’s German stunner Victoria. For 90 or so minutes, Budge cannot collect the van full of drugs he has been tasked with manning and delivering to his boss as he realizes he is being tailed, which prompts him to make several calls and organize a new plan on the fly for making the collection and delivery. And while he does do everything he can to keep the love of his life away from danger, he does get a business associate involved that knows nothing about his criminal career but suspects his friend has been wanting to live a little dangerously.
There are various complications on this mission, many of which leave Budge seeking new alternatives for finishing, whether it be searching for a new buyer and, of course, locating and finding a way to get a hold of the van. The film never once breaks away from his perspective, rarely leaving the rearview mirror of his car. When it does, it’s usually for a noteworthy crafted slice of violence such as a home invasion tracked from the exterior walls and windows.
Despite the challenging undertaking of one-shot filmmaking, there is still a generic vibe for much of Nightride, with villains lacking compelling motivation. The first half is mostly a series of mildly engaging phone calls establishing different characters without much going on visually aside from its gimmick. With that said, this is a far cry from the unique quality of Victoria. However, the performance from Moe Dunford is full of hurried urgency, intimidating stares, and gritty facial expressions that are enough to remain involved. And once the story does start placing various loved ones in danger, there is elevated suspense.
Nightride is also aware that much of this is a road repeatedly traveled, so it is also not afraid to toss some amusing one-liners into its one-take tension. It’s a confident and slickly crafted minimalistic crime thriller. As far as cinematic midnight joyrides go, this is one worth taking.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com