It’s fair to say that when “Rolling Vengeance” (citywide) starts to move, nothing can stop it. There’s no denying that this otherwise standard tale of revenge sports some slick production values and a wicked sense of humor that’s refreshing. But the problem remains that the story idles far too long before shifting into gear.

Set in a mythical Ohio county (actually southern Ontario in Canada), the story pits independent truckers Big Joe Rosso (Lawrence Dane) and son Joey (Don Michael Paul) against the scourge of the Doyles--four dim-witted sons and a brutal patriarch named Tiny (Ned Beatty). In other words, it’s good versus evil--and as Mammy Yokum once observed, “Good’s better ‘n evil ‘cause it’s nicer.”

Michael Montgomery’s by-the-book script offers up a decent family harassed by clods. Then a highway prank turns tragic when the Doyle sons’ antics cause the deaths of Mom Rosso and her two young children. The court rules that the evidence is inconclusive for conviction but Big Joe and son vow they’ll get justice, one way or another.


Before that can happen, Big Joe falls victim to another arranged highway accident, leaving Joey to stand alone. So, he constructs a monster truck--a virtually unstoppable and impenetrable cab powered by a large engine sitting on mammoth treads.

The truck, regardless of billing to the contrary, is the star of the show. Lovingly captured in slow motion, it mows down all comers, leaving havoc in its wake.

Director Steven Stern appreciates that blood rather than logic is primary for the audience responsive to this formula entertainment. The characters exclusively embody cliches, even if Beatty has a grand time with his crude, unshaven transplanted Arkansas goon. He provides the much-needed color to offset Paul’s dry, strait-laced hero.

Stern also keeps “Rolling Vengeance” (MPAA-rated: R, for violence and language) in gear once the story’s destination has been set. You simply cannot believe your eyes, and aren’t really supposed to as the seemingly omniscient avenger plows through to the conclusion. Even if we’ve all seen this type of movie before, the craft and cunning here provides a sweet, snug moral that’s secure and satisfying.