RIP Patrick Swayze. You made some great films, like Road House. Point Break. The Outsiders. You also made some not great films like Black Dog. Spoiler alert. The best thing I can say about Black Dog is that it knows exactly what it is, which is a 1998 thriller/action movie with a number of slow motion semi-truck blow ups. Also, it has Meat Loaf. Also, Randy Travis, as a wannabe country singer. Black Dog is very meta. Let’s start from the beginning: A flatbed truck chase. The FBI and the ATF. Giant crates of AK-47s. First instance of a crashed truck bursting into a ball of flames. Call me crazy, but those AK-47s might show up later. Enter Patrick Swayze as Jack Crews, an ex-con with a hilarious name for a truck driver. Jack Crews. Do you get it? If you don’t, turn off this movie because this is not your kind of movie, friend. Jack’s trying to walk the straight and narrow somewhere in New Jersey, when his scummy boss (this guy), hits him with an offer he can’t refuse. There’s a load, “off the books” yah see, that needs to get from Atlanta to New Jersey. Jack used to be a truck driver, one who, and this is verbatim, “Could drive an ice truck through hell on the Fourth of July.”Yeessssssss. After a gnarly nightmare/flashback of Jack driving through some rain where an attacking black dog seems to wake him from this dream, he takes the job. His house is getting foreclosed on. He and his wife and his daughter owe $9,000. The mysterious “off the books” load pays $10,000. Jack needs to save his house and get his kid some high top sneakers. He takes the job. Cut to Atlanta, where we get our first look of Meat Loaf. He’s wearing a bolo tie and his name is Red. He owns a junkyard, and this is where Jack Crews is going to pick up the load and take it to New Jersey. There’s an incredible montage of Crews trying out all the different trucks like women trying on different outfits in a romantic comedy. It’s pretty brilliant. He finally finds the right ride. He wears black leather driving gloves. On his journey he’ll be accompanied by some of Red’s men; Randy Travis as Earl, and then two guys named Wes and Sonny driving behind the truck, “for security,” says Red. Sonny shows up late and says, “I may be late, but I’m always on time.” Hmmmm… Also, there’s a black dog in the back of the truck for no apparent reason. I guess security? Symbolism? Who knows. Not long into the journey, and we’ve got trouble. Two jerks start shooting a shotgun at the convoy (sure, that’s what we’ll call it). There’s some late 90s car chase action. Some well-placed dialogue informs us that Red is trying to hijack the load! Say it ain’t so! Also, Red (Meat Loaf in a bolo tie) is strangely religious, in that he spouts scripture in a real ominous way when he’s doing evil stuff like trying to kill Jack and his posse. At the end of it, the good guys escape, and another car blows up. Suspicions confirmed, Jack and his crew look to see what they’re really carrying in the back of the truck. It’s guns! Dang! We also find out that the FBI is tracking the truck, and though it’s not said, it’s HEAVILY hinted at that they’ve got someone inside the truck. Who could it be? I’m betting Sonny (It’s for sure Sonny). Things start to get a little repetitive at this point, and this review is going way long, so let’s speed things up:
Go to a weigh station. Almost get caught, but the FBI calls in a favor. Jack says something to the effect of, “I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like someone wanted us to get through this weigh station.” You’re right, Jack. It was the FBI.
Multiple semi-trucks try to box in Jack going up a mountain road. Red and his guys are behind this. After some bumping and grinding, Jack gets out of it. Two semi-trucks burst into flames, but Jack drives on.
Jack’s boss goes to Jack’s house and takes his wife and daughter hostage. He calls Jack. Jack is pissed. Nobody is gonna stop him from delivering this load now.
Two baddies in Canadian tuxedos riding dirt bikes try to hijack the truck. Jack somehow ends up fist-fighting one of them. He gets shot. So does Sonny. Jack’s is just a flesh wound, but Sonny might be gut-shot. Sonny might be a goner. Sonny says, “I feel so cold,” before revealing himself as the undercover FBI agent. Sonny dies. Bummer.
With about 15 minutes left in the movie, we learn that “the black dog,” is a legend among truck drivers. It’s when they’ve pushed too hard. The black dog comes to take everything. This is what happened to Jack Crews, years ago. So….title of the movie explained.
There’s a shootout at the docks. The FBI and ATF come. The bad guys come. Jack Crews wins. Randy Travis gets shot, but is not dead, so that’s cool.
Meat Loaf in a bolo tie shows up at the end as a surprise. MEAT LOAF IS BACK!!! He tries to run Jack and his family off the road, but Jack is having none of it, and ultimately, Meat Loaf and his semi-truck burst into a ball of flames.
Logan is a Content Marketing Associate at FreightPros in charge of social media and content creation. He has a writing degree from the University of Oklahoma, but lives life on the edge and resides in Longhorn country. He loves Murakami books, Tarantino movies, and Vonnegut books. Lots of books. One day he will own a dog, but first he'll have to get a yard.
See how much time and money you'll save by having our pros help manage your freight.