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Ride (2024) Review

Ride is the directorial debut of actor and writer Jake Allyn (ExPatriot, No Man’s Land) who co-wrote the script with Josh Plasse whose only other feature credit is on The Resurrection of Charles Manson, also made by a first time director, Frank Grillo’s son Remy.

Allyn and Plasse also star as Peter and Noah, siblings in a family that’s coming apart at the seams. Their father John (C. Thomas Howell, Beast Mode, The Hitcher) is struggling along with Noah to keep the family farm running while try to deal with the news that the family’s youngest member eleven year old, Virginia’s (Zia Carlock, Trinket Box) cancer is worse than they thought and will require an experimental, and expensive, treatment.

Their mother Monica (Annabeth Gish, The Fall of the House of Usher, Mayfair Witches) is the law around these parts and wants little to do with John and even less to do with Peter, who has just finished a four year sentence and looks to be falling back into his old habits.

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Ride stacks the deck against John, the insurance companies aren’t nearly as eager to help as they were to take his money all these years, and when he tries to get access to his pension funds from a job teaching classes for the local Future Farmers of America chapter, the board of directors turns him down. But they are willing to pray for him, to the same God who gave Virginia the cancer to begin with. Get help for your dying child, try that in a small town.

With time, and their options, running out, Peter, who is desperate to help, offers up a plan to pull off a robbery to get the money. Of course, it goes fatally wrong, leaving them scrambling to cover their tracks. Meanwhile, Monica is looking to solve a crime whose suspects are a lot closer than she wants to believe and will force her to make some hard choices.

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As you may have noticed, this is fairly familiar territory, with good but desperate people being forced into crime to save a loved one and the family’s prodigal son looking to redeem himself. Ride’s one fairly unique element is the rodeo angle, with three generations, Peter, John and John’s father Al (Forrie J. Smith, Dead Man’s Hand, Tombstone) all having been bull riders. It’s something the script should probably have done more with, the rodeo scenes are among the film’s highlights, instead of losing its focus trying to work in multiple, inconsequential subplots.

And at an hour and fifty-three minutes, Ride does lose its focus more than once as it tries to juggle bits such as Noah and his girlfriend Libby, played by country singer Laci Kaye Booth, plans to leave town and Monica’s deputy Justin (Austin Robert Russell, 12 Mighty Orphans, The Trump Prophecy) who has the hots for her, and a hatred for John and Peter. At times, it feels like this was plotted out to be a miniseries and ended up condensed into a film.

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Thankfully, the cast delivers some strong performances that help Ride get through it’s weaker moments. Allyn has written himself a great role as the wayward son, and Howell, who looks aged well beyond his years, channels Sam Elliot as the pushed to his limit rancher. Gish, although underused for much of the film, turns in a solid performance as the sheriff caught between her duty to the law and to her family. Granted, I’d consider it a win/win situation, the town’s oxy dealer is dead and Virginia’s treatment is covered, but that’s just me.

Despite the extraneous and sometimes dubious plot choices, Ride has some strong messages, both about the strength of family and the problems facing rural, and in the case of affordable medical care, America as a whole. Combined with the cast’s performances, it’s worth a watch for those looking for a good drama.

Well Go USA will release Ride in theatres and to Digital and VOD Platforms on June 14th.

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