"Seconds Apart" director Antonio Negret generates some genuine adrenaline-fueled thrills, chills, and spills in his second feature length release. The rural crime thriller "Transit" qualifies as an exciting road picture about four murderous thieves who tangle with an innocent family in backwater Louisiana over a fortune in stolen loot. The only shortcoming of this above-average but formulaic melodrama is its lackluster ending that deprives the protagonist of any reward for his heroic deeds. Fortunately, the cast is convincing, particularly Jim Caviezel as the devastated dad and James Frain as the desperate villain. The ignorant authorities are clueless about what is happening between the heroes and the villains. Ironically, the lawmen only complicate matters and imperil our hero and his family. Frain looks particularly degenerate as the sleazy gang leader, while Harold Perrineau registers intensely as a trigger-happy henchman. "According to Greta" scenarist Michael Gilvary has cross-stitched the plots from the Dana Andrews' epic "Hot Rods to Hell" and the Audrey Hepburn nail-biter "Wait Until Dark." In `Hot Rods to Hell," rebellious teens terrorize a family on a deserted stretch of highway. In "Wait Until Dark," a deadly drug dealer stashes his narcotics in the blind heroine's luggage for a transoceanic flight and the villains invade her New York apartment.
In "Transit," a quartet of reckless armored car robbers need to get past a police roadblock. They replace the camping gear strapped down to the top of the Sidwell family SUV with their ill-gotten gains. Initially, our heroes have no clue about the dastards after them. Marek (James Frain of "Titus"), Arielle (Diora Baird of "Wedding Crashers"), Losada (Harold Perrineaus of "The Matrix Revolutions"), and Evers (Ryan Donowho of "Broken Flowers") have fooled themselves into believing that they can retrieve their loot from the unsuspecting family before they realize that they've been used as a mule. Naturally, nothing goes right for either side and those are the best dramatic moments. The conflict emerges from the situation. Our hero Nate (Jim Caviezel of "Outlander") has just been paroled from prison. He served time for real estate fraud. Now, Nate is struggling to get his wife Robyn (Elisabeth Röhm of "Abduction") and sons together for a vacation when they run afoul of the bad guys. Some of the action will take you by surprise. Neither Negret nor Gilvary make it easy for either the heroes or their adversaries. No sooner do the villains have the loot than they lose it. Not long after the hero appropriates the millions, he loses it in the swamp.
The black 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle that the villains drive assumes a character of its own and the long shots of it hauling down the highway look as cool as the spinning tire shots. Negret handles the chase sequences with aplomb. The car crash involving the Sheriff Deputy's Crown Victoria is awesome. "Transit" never wears out its welcome.