Packard Walsh and his motorized gang control and terrorize an Arizona desert town where they force drivers to drag-race so they can 'win' their vehicles. After Walsh beats the decent teenager Jamie Hankins to death after finding him with his girlfriend, a mysterious power creates Jake Kesey, an extremely cool motor-biker who has a car which is invincible. Jake befriends Jamie's girlfriend Keri Johnson, takes Jamie's sweet brother Bill under his wing and manages what Sheriff Loomis couldn't; eliminate Packard's criminal gang the hard way...
The Wraith came onto my radar a few weeks ago when I was in the mood for an 80’s movie. I called my dad (an 80’s trivia guru) and asked for a recommendation. He said “The Wraith” so here we are. If what you are looking for is a 1980’s b-movie, this film excels. It was not something that was trying to win any awards but is just an overall fun film. The Wraith is a good popcorn movie for those times when you want to sit and watch something without really paying attention.
Most of the acting in the film is pretty campy but it feels intentional. A lot of the actors in here are capable of bigger and better things, as their careers have shown. Young Charlie Sheen is a main character here and honestly, it took me half the film to recognize him. Partially because of how young he is, but mostly because this is the soberest I have ever seen him. Nick Cassavetes (director of films such as The Notebook) also stars in here; The Wraith was actually his first film. The leading lady of this title is Sherilyn Fenn, well known for the cult TV series Twin Peaks. These actors all have real talent, but the writing is still very 80’s b-movie. Good guys are extremely good while the bad guys seem to look up to Biff from Back to the Future as a personal hero.
For what The Wraith is, the film’s action sequences are pretty good. There is a lot of racing involved and real cars were used in lieu of close-ups of Hot Wheels. Nor is the film plagued by effects where a car hits a pebble and somehow explodes 150’ into the air. The movie really screams 1980’s too, from the soundtrack to the costume designs to the photography. Is The Wraith on par with 80’s classics like The Terminator or The Goonies? Of course not. Is it Charlie Sheen’s best work? Obviously no, everyone knows that is Hot Shots. But if you want a movie that kicks ass and chews bubblegum then that’s…well, that’s actually They Live, another fantastic 80’s movie. But the point is, The Wraith is a good flick for just kicking back and chilling one evening.