Watchable crime comedy.
Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Drive Hard tells the story of Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane), a family man and former racecar driver, who is dragged into a bank heist and forced to be the wheel-man by career criminal Simon Keller (John Cusack).
John Cusack seems to drift happily along doing these low-budget numbers, as if killing time for a ‘real’ movie to happen. The actor’s next big score will be the much anticipated Cronenberg film, Maps to the Stars–and early indicators look very promising–but until then, you’ll have to make do with Drive Hard.
The film is set in Australia’s Gold Coast, with Cusack playing Simon Keller, a man with a score to settle after a 5-year prison stint–he decides to get even with the men he feels were responsible for his incarceration. His plan involves using an ex-car racer, who Simon takes hostage and forces to help him steal $9 million in bearer bonds, which belong to the guys who let him go to jail.
Playing ex-racer Peter Roberts is Thomas Jane, who most will know from his starring role as Frank Castle in The Punisher. Jane’s character Peter is unhappily married thanks to his former gig of racing cars being reluctantly taken from him at his wife’s insistence. He’s now giving driving lessons but isn’t earning enough money and is earning even less respect from his family. That is until Simon takes Peter hostage and the pair end up being hunted by not only the cops but Simon’s old crooked partners.
Although Simon does indeed have a plan it’s not a very good one, and sees the two men almost get killed several times, and said plan has about as many holes as Drive Hard‘s script. Some of the dialogue was very funny, as were a few of the comedic set pieces, but thanks to the uninspired action, the overall effect was less than satisfying.
The supporting cast were solid with the majority coming from Australia but the only Aussie actor I recognised was Zoe Ventoura, as I’d seen her in See No Evil. Peter and Simon end up all over the news so whenever anyone realised who they were, the pair would come under attack from folk trying to do their civic duty. The pair had bikers shooting at them and cops chasing them but the best scene came when an elderly woman with a filthy mouth started beating on Peter.
Brian Trenchard-Smith has been making movies for over 40 years, with his first made in 1972 and starred the zoony-eyed legend Marty Feldman. His films have actually inspired a lot of people, in fact Quentin Tarantino is a fan of the director and you can watch the pair talk film in this interview by clicking here.
Drive Hard is a joint Canadian-Australian production, made for a reasonable $12 million, with perhaps most of the budget used to pay the two stars and the director, but that’s purely speculation on my part. If that was the case then with a little more investment and time spent on the script I feel this could have been even better, but it still provided just enough entertainment to get by.
Review by Nav Qateel