By definition, remakes have a tough act to follow. To even get to the point of a side-by-side comparison, they have to overcome the purists' outrage that they exist in the first place. The original Hitcher (1986), however, wasn't the typical candidate to be remade -- it had a chilling concept, but flawed execution. Dave Meyers' 2007 update plugs those narrative gaps quite effectively. It raises the emotional stakes by involving both protagonists from the start, providing each a necessary sounding board for what's happening to them. This version also approaches the action more gradually, and portrays the decision to pick up the hitchhiker as a moral quandary, rather than an impulsive whim. As a result, the story's most unforgettable scene is even more of a gut punch. While it's hard to improve on Rutger Hauer, the very personification of menace, as the villain, Sean Bean may in fact surpass him in one sense: he has two sides of his coin, one of which is charming enough to win the initial trust of his victims. In some ways, this Hitcher doesn't have the grit of the original, as Meyers shoots in a slick, MTV-ready style, with leads who could both be models (Zachary Knighton and Sophia Bush). However, the passage of 20 years has also relaxed the gore standards, giving the violence a more visceral immediacy. Under the influence of producer Michael Bay, the chase sequences carry an exciting grandeur, particularly the set piece in which Bean systematically dispatches a posse of police cruisers to the tune of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer." Sure, some B-movie elements remain, and critics latched onto them in returning a generally unfavorable verdict. But at its best moments, The Hitcher is up there with Jonathan Mostow's Breakdown in terms of spiraling disaster on the lonely highways.