Many people have various opinions on the criminal justice system and what the punishment should be for various crimes. While three strike laws have been around for long time, in the 1990s they became widespread around the United States. The basic premise of three strikes laws is that each time a person commits a serious crime they will be given a harsher sentence with the third offense generally leading to long prison sentences that can reach life in prison. In some situations this can be justified as people who keep committing serious crimes should face serious punishments. These laws ended up being applied to more minor crimes though where people ended up serving 20+ years for crimes that would be considered pretty minor or even legal today. I bring this up because the movie I am reviewing today is about a man who served 21 years in prison, for possession of an once of marijuana, that has to adjust to life out of prison after such a long prison sentence. Adopt A Highway is an interesting story of a man seeking redemption which features some touching moments even if it can drag a little at times.
We would like to thank RJLE Films for the review copy of Adopt A Highway used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
Adopt A Highway follows the story of Russ Millings. After being caught for the third time for possession of an once of marijuana, Russ have to serve a long prison sentence due to the three strikes policy passed years earlier. He ends up spending 21 years in prison for the crime. When he is finally released from prison he enters a world that has left him behind. For a man who doesn’t even know how to use the internet Russ has a hard time adjusting to life outside of prison. That all changes when one day after work he finds a baby that has been left abandoned in a dumpster outside the restaurant that he works at. Russ realizes that this might be his chance to turn his life around and adjust to a world that he hardly recognizes anymore.
At its heart I would say that Adopt A Highway is a story about redemption. The movie is about a man trying to find his way after spending a large majority of his life behind bars. This involves a look at how a person deals with all of the things that they lost out on in life due to being locked up for so long.
Heading into Adopt A Highway I assumed a lot of the movie was gong to focus of Russ trying to take care of the baby that he finds as he tries to adjust to everyday life. I mostly thought this because his time with the baby is featured heavily in the movie’s trailer and is used for the movie’s cover. While this storyline plays a role in the movie, it doesn’t factor in as much as I would have expected. To avoid spoilers I am not going to get into too many details, but the movie instead focuses more on Russ trying to adjust to and deal with everything he lost out on while in prison. This involves various different stops in his life where he learns about life, gets closure from what he lost in prison, and finds a way to move forward with his life.
This focus on different stops in his life is responsible for a lot of my feelings about Adopt A Highway. I ultimately had some mixed feelings about the movie. There are parts that I really liked and others areas where I think the movie could have been better. This leads to a pretty up and down experience. In general I like the overall theme/plot of the movie. I liked the idea of a man’s journey towards adapting to a world that has left him behind. The movie does a really good job with this at times. I really felt for Russ as his whole life was ruined due to a couple bad decisions. This makes some of the stops on his journey quite interesting. There are some really touching moments in the movie that lead to a good drama about redemption.
On top of these moments I would say the acting in the movie is quite good. Ethan Hawke is clearly the star performer in the movie. That is partially because he gets a majority of the screen time, but he also gives a great performance. He does a really good job bringing heart to the character of Russ. Russ is clearly troubled after spending a lot of his life behind bars and is just trying to get his life together. Ethan Hawke does a great job making you really care about the character. I would say the rest of the acting is pretty good as well. None of the other characters get a lot of screen time though so you never get to really know them.
There is quite a bit that I liked about Adopt A Highway, but there are some problems as well. With the movie mostly focusing on various stops and people that Russ meets on his journey, some are naturally better than others. Some of these stories are pretty good, but others kind of drag down the film in my opinion. I just found some of these little stories to be kind of boring. Adopt A Highway is far from an action packed movie and that is not a bad thing. The problem is that I didn’t find some of the stories to be all that interesting. I think these could have been cut from the movie and it wouldn’t have really had any effect on the film. If these scenes were cut the movie could also have spent more time with the more interesting storylines.
As for the Blu-ray itself I would say that it is fine. The picture quality is good. Adopt A Highway is not the type of movie that really shines in high definition though. The movie doesn’t feature a lot of action, special effects, or colorful sets which are usually the things that look the best in high definition. Basically the movie looks good, but it isn’t going to compare to the big budget movies that generally shine in high definition. As for special features neither the DVD or Blu-ray include any special features.
I ultimately had some mixed feeling about Adopt A Highway. Basically it is a story about a man trying to get his life together after spending over 20 years in prison for a minor drug offense. There are quite a few things that I liked about the movie. The movie is mostly about finding a way to redemption and dealing with what was lost after spending so much time in prison. There are some really good moments in the movie that are quite touching. It helps that Ethan Hawke does a great job in the lead role. The problem is that the experience is a little up and down. Instead of focusing on one main story the movie follows a couple different stories in his journey to redemption. Some of these are good but some are kind of boring. I think the movie would have been better served spending more time on the most interesting plot points and ditching these slower stories. I thought the movie’s ending was pretty good but the journey to that point could have been a little smoother.
I personally think Adopt A Highway is going to be one of those movies that some people will really enjoy while others might find it to be kind of boring. If the movie doesn’t sound all that interesting to you, I don’t think there is anything about it that is special enough to overcome those feelings. People who think the story of a man trying to find redemption after spending many years in prison sounds interesting though should enjoy Adopt A Highway. For those people I would probably recommend picking it up.