A gristly Tom Berenger, Buddy Holly-esque Ray Bans held together with tape, knuckle tattoos that spell out R-U-F-F, and a cheesy country song. So begins ‘Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway,’ a poorly acted psychological thriller about a crazed man, making a break for Mexico with two kidnapped girls. Luckily, a wily detective pursues him, pulling out all the stops and working to catch him by issuing an Amber Alert.
Everything about this movie is awkward. The camera work features jerky transitions and unnecessary dramatic close-ups. Berenger explicitly reveals portions of the plot and what he’s going to do next through unfortunate monologues. Most of the film’s dialogue would be more convincing if it was read directly from the script. The film’s score and other auditory attempts at dramatic effect are ridiculously exaggerated and make every tense moment feel like the climax on some sappy eighties soap opera.
The best way to describe the story of the film is formulaic with no afterthought for details. The writers wanted to make a movie about kidnapping that was solved via Amber Alerts, and they did it. Little details, like why the main character suddenly decides to kidnap two girls, or do any of the things that he does for that matter, were pushed aside or relegated to umbrella explanations like a bad childhood.
From the very beginning ‘Amber Alert’ is unintentionally hilarious, especially given that Berenger looks like a psycho version of Gary Busey in the Buddy Holly Story. While this film is not enjoyable as a serious psychological thriller it is oddly captivating with its over-the-top and terrible story and acting. This is a film for bad movie rubberneckers. It is so bad that once you start it you won’t be able to look away.
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