Road thrillers have their own special corner in the annals of movie history, but one in particular is held in very high esteem even after four decades for many reasons. Although it originally aired as a television movie in 1971, Duel; the story of travel-bound man terrorized by a mysterious trucker while driving on the road, actually signifies the first full-length movie ever directed by none other than legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
Released by Anchor Bay Canada on January 5th, 2016, Wrecker; a story about two women on a road trip terrorized by a mysterious trucker was released on DVD for home viewing audiences. Although it does not share the same title or released under the same banner on DVD, make no mistake about it, Wrecker is for all intents-and-purposes; a direct remake of Duel and not simply an homage to the 1971 classic.
Besides the change of the two lead women, Wrecker is an almost identical clone of sequences, dialogue and story beats (right down to the diner scene where the main character tries to identify the driver in a room full of patrons, only to be gloriously mistaken), so the level of originality is not very high. But granted, Duel is over 40 years in age so Wrecker may come off as a new experience for uneducated viewers, but the ‘remake’ lacks the nuance and masterful handling of the suspense so well executed by Spielberg. On it’s own, it’s a half-decent time-waster but as a remake it falls far short of the movie that supplied the goods for a carbon-copy to be extracted from it.
On standard 480p DVD the Anamorphic Widescreen image (1.78:1 aspect ratio) is fairly good to watch the film, albeit with some high grain but the colors remain quite strong for a regular edition. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix is also relatively good and clear to the ear. The disc does not contain any bonus features (not surprising since actress Andrea Whitburn quit the production while filming, necessitating her character’s disappearance in the second half of the film).
Wrecker is not a mess of a movie, in fact it is put together as a workable thriller but it has one hell of a blueprint to work off of. Duel is a film that certainly could have been honored with a remake, but if the intention is not to make the remake better or resonant in its own way, then it really serves little purpose. And that is ultimately the end result with Wrecker.