Jake (David Janssen) is a down-on-his-luck trucker who is offered job by a mysterious man named Kleiner (WIlliam Schallert). If Jake agrees to transport a cargo across the country, he will get not only $6,000 but Kleiner will also pull some strings get Jake back in the good graces of the trucking company. If Jake takes the job, he will be given a slip of paper with a phone number on it and, according to Kleiner, that piece of paper will get him out of any trouble that he runs into along the way. The only condition is that Jake is not allowed to know what he’ll be transporting. Jake agrees and soon, he and his partner Donny (Keenan Wynn) are driving the truck through the desert. They are also being followed by a group of men who will stop at nothing to steal the cargo.
This made-for-TV movie is called Hijack! but no one ever gets hijacked. Instead, with the exception of a brief romantic interlude between Jake and a truck stop waitress (Lee Purcell), this is a nonstop chase movie but the chase itself is never exciting enough to justify that exclamation mark in the title. It was probably made to capitalize on the success of Steven Spielberg’s made-for-TV classic, Duel, but it never come close to capturing the nerve or intensity of that film. There’s one good scene where the bad guys come after the truck in a helicopter but otherwise, this is a pretty anemic stuff. Even the eventual reveal of what Jake and Donny are hauling across the desert is a let down.
David Janssen specialized in playing grizzled loners and Keenan Wynn specialized in playing eccentric old coots so both of them are adequate in the main roles. The bad guys are largely forgettable and, as she did in so many other TV movies in the 70s, Lee Purcell brings what life that she can to an underwritten role.