Perhaps the current ad slogan for Cadillac would be apropos for this direct-to-disk thriller: "Life. Liberty. And the pursuit." Because it's about all of those things (in a dark, spooky, horror kind of way). Then again, so could their very first commercial come-on, trotted out in 1905 ("You can kill a horse, but you can't kill a Cadillac.") — because it's also about flesh vs the machine and which one has more endurance.
Based on a short story by Stephen King and starring a scenery-chewing Christian Slater as Jimmy Dolan, Dolan's Cadillac follows the plight of bland schoolteacher Robinson (a miscast Wes Bentley) and his pretty, sweet wife Elizabeth (Emmanuelle Vaugier, playing it well) after they try to report the eponymous crime boss to the FBI for murder and trafficking in the sex trade. You see, while out riding her horse in the desert, Elizabeth accidently sees an illegal deal gone awry, barely escapes, and then convinces nebbish Hubby to do the right thing.
Once he gets wind of the witnesses, Dolan and his Caddy go after them with a vengeance. At first they try to flee, but of course wind up fighting. While holed up in a no-tell motel, Elizabeth is murdered via car bomb (a Toyota, naturally). But far from silencing her impending testimony, Dolan and his henchmen open a can of burnt up worms in the form of the young woman as a ghostly goader. In prodding her man to seek revenge, Elizabeth thinks she can stop Dolan for once and for all. But it's not that easy. Visions of Elizabeth wane as Robinson grows a pair and plots an elaborate revenge scheme in which Dolan's caddy will become his casket.
Dolan's Cadillac may not go from 0 to 60 in record time, but it starts off strong. The characters are worth following and the direction is reasonably brisk. Then, if I may indulge in metaphor, the whole thing blows a gasket, overheats, and dies on empty. The last act of the film lumbers on seemingly endlessly (ever with the aid of the fast-forward button on the remote control) to an inevitable and completely unsurprising ending.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson