The point (ideally) of genre revisions like this throwback to the leather-clad mythic machoism of highway gang violence is to use familiar devices (the chase, the stand-off, the barroom brawl, the unacknowledged love between a band of stoic slimeballs) to communicate something new and timely. Director/star Larry Bishop and executive producer Quentin Tarantino seem blissfully ignorant of that point in this high-octane, low-everything else vigilante biker gang dust-off.
Bishop’s Pistolero, an ugly and uncharismatic leader of some kind of drug-peddling middle-aged treehouse club, exchanges horribly uninspired one-liners (and punches, so many punches) with his business partners The Gent (Michael Madsen) and Comanche (Eric Balfour) as they meander towards an encounter with the gang that killed one of their mothers (Dennis Hopper also appears, but does nothing more). The gang’s many sexual partners, meanwhile, are alternately undressing or undressed and always mute (maybe blind too, since they don’t seem to mind how horribly unattractive Pistorelo is), and nothing in Hell Ride suggests that we, like them, aren’t supposed to sit back passively, take it and say “yeah!”
Clearly, there’s something to be made of the open road, highway-Western genre movie (one such film was awarded an important Oscar a few months back, in fact), but this is not it. This is dirty old men indulging irresponsible, offensive and exploitative fantasies with the encouragement of their best buddies. A not nearly redeeming factor, if nothing else is, is the barely concealed love the gang members play out for one another in their partner-swapping and butt-grabbing (conspicuously, the men’s leather gear and bad-ass tattoos get as many close-ups as the various plasticized female body parts).