Predictably hokey, DEAD AHEAD pits a quartet of urban bank robbers against the survivalist enterprise of a wilderness-wise mother out to save her 12-year-old son from their evil clutches.
Dissension hits the nature-loving Loch family when mother Maura (Stephanie Zimbalist) considers accepting a city job that would require the entire family to leave their home in the Oregon forests. While father Brian (Tom Butler) is away at the family store in town, Maura encounters a quartet of
fleeing bank robbers whose van has crashed nearby. Chased by the gang's ringleader Frank (Peter Onorati), his dimwitted nephew Simon (Michael Tayles), enforcer Charlie (Douglas Arthurs), and driver Anthony (John Tench)--Maura crashes her vehicle in the lake. Hearing shots, daughter Heather (Sarah
Chalke) hides, but son Doug (Brendan Fletcher) is captured by the thieves, who force him to guide them to an airstrip. Armed with bow and arrows, Maura sets off in pursuit of her son.
Doug attempts to escape as the crooks begin to argue among themselves. Maura is able to pick off rear-guard Anthony. She is joined by an anxious Brian, who is wounded by a grenade tossed by former commando Charlie. When he attempts to throw another, Maura pins his arm to a tree with a flying
arrow, and he is killed in the explosion. At the airstrip, Frank murders childlike Simon for trying to protect Doug. But as he tries to board his getaway plane, he is brought down by Maura's arrows.
The message of the domestic-turbulence thriller genre is that tragedy can be avoided as long as the divided family reestablishes its unity. Having survived bombs and bullets, the victorious Lochs appear to have forgotten their initial conflicts. Maybe all that any squabbling family needs is a good
old hostage crisis to help them set their priorities straight. Thematics aside, DEAD AHEAD is an efficient, sporadically suspenseful backwoods thriller, though one that's never so threatening as to become scary: It's benign terror the whole family can enjoy. Perhaps it is best enjoyed for the
deadly initiative Mama Loch shows in protecting her cub; she's a real whiz with that bow, and urban villains should think twice about messing with any PTA types who are armed and maternal. (Violence, adult situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Predictably hokey, DEAD AHEAD pits a quartet of urban bank robbers against the survivalist enterprise of a wilderness-wise mother out to save her 12-year-old son from their evil clutches. Dissension hits the nature-loving Loch family when mother Maura (St… (more)