Drive Hard Review
Move along. There's nothing to see here.
It seems like John Cusack – and, to a certain extent Thomas Jane – have truly hit rock bottom with this low budget Australian production completely devoid of character, comedy, drama, action, thrills or interest.Cusack’s something of a wild card, frequently refusing to play the Hollywood game, and then suddenly leading front-and-centre in blockbusters like 2012. He’s always been best in quirky, indie flicks like the excellent Grosse Pointe Blank, the surreal Being John Malkovich, and the energetic High Fidelity, but he’s also done well in more dramatic fare, like the psychological thriller, Identity and in the dark and seedy The Paperboy.Unfortunately, despite the success of 2012, he’s been dabbling in far too many low budget straight-to-DVD productions over the last decade, from The Contract (opposite Morgan Freeman) to The Factory; from The Bag Man (opposite Robert De Niro) to The Numbers Station. Still, some of them are remarkably watchable – like The Numbers Station – in spite of their low budget and limited scope, and so the latest flick did have the potential to at least be one of the better straight-to-DVD features he’s been involved with of late. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Instead, it’s the worst thing that he has ever done.
The banal story sees Cusack’s mysterious stranger book a lesson with Thomas Jane’s hen-pecked, washed-out, ex-racing driver-turned driving instructor, only to make a quick stop at a bank and improbably abscond with a suitcase full of millions, whereupon he tamely pressures his driver to help him make a speedy getaway. In his pathetic instructor’s vehicle. With the cops doing an appropriate slow high-pursuit chase and even the police helicopter abandoning the chase halfway through (probably because they got bored). How does he enlist his help? Rubber bullets. Genius. Along the way, the two pick up a muscle car that breaks down; trade it in for another muscle car that, despite his racing skills, doesn’t appear to get above 30 mph; get held up at a gas station in a comical sequence that feels right out of Naked Gun (a guy with a shotgun can’t hit a guy on the other side of a food rack); get into ‘trouble’ with the world’s lamest biker gang; and get chased by the world’s worst mercenaries.
After X-Men: Days of Future Past, I've perhaps set a new personal record of seeing potentially the worst and best films of 2014 both within hours of one another.
Indeed, rather than concentrate their efforts on tense, fast-paced driving sequences, shootouts or even perhaps well-scripted banter between the two leads, the filmmakers appeared instead to focus on what they thought was the single biggest determining factor in the success of the movie. Which order of words the title should be. Originally called ‘Hard Drive’ – Thomas Jane’s character even says the famous words himself – somewhere along the line somebody thought this might have been a somewhat confusing title and instead shifted it to ‘Drive Hard’. Phew, they must have thought that this was a close call. Unfortunately, despite the hard work put into the title change, everything else smacks of woeful indifference, half-baked ideas, and phoned-in performances, with Cusack mildly imitating his Grosse Pointe Blank character only to the detriment of that underrated classic, and Jane looking increasingly like a bored Thomas Haden-Church. Seriously, avoid at all costs. Although you won’t have to drive very fast to escape this painfully slow mess.