Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The director of this movie ‘Drive Hard’, Brian Trenchard-Smith, also made the ridiculously great movie ‘The Man from Hong Kong’.  That’s a movie that put the ‘A’ in Awesome.  The thing is, as of this writing, that movie is turning 40 which makes the movie about as old as I am.  Since then Mr. Trenchard-Smith has made a boatload of films, a lot of them terrible, quite a few I’ve seen.  Leprechaun in Space anybody?  Tyrannosaurus Azteca?  What I’m saying is that because of ‘The Man from Hong Kong’, Mr. Trenchard-Smith will probably always get a free pass from me.  Yes, he’s about to turn 70, and maybe the promise he showed back in ’75 will never be realized, but I will always hold out hope.  This hope was again dashed with ‘Drive Hard’ which was benignly terrible, as opposed to much preferred ‘actively terrible’.  But we still hold out hope.

Thomas Jane is Peter Roberts, a former stock car superstar until he had the misfortune of knocking up the shrew Tessa (Yesse Spence) resulting in the birth of a bratty daughter and completely ruining my mans life.  He now spends his days being browbeaten and working for a student driving outfit for pennies on the dollar.

But things are about to change for my man as one of his new student is one Simon Keller (John Cusack) who does look a little long in the tooth for driving lessons, but being as how this movie takes place in Australia, and since they do drive on the wrong side of the road down there, he needs some pointers on how to navigate the streets.  Thing is Simon just needed a wheelman while he robbed a bank, and he scouted the former racing god and figured he’s his guy.  Watching these fake Australian police and their inability to drive and the inability to track a pretty easy to spot car via helicopter, I’m thinking Simon didn’t really need Peter for this task of his.

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But then we would’ve been robbed of the witty repartee between two veteran, talented, middle aged actors, who this film desperately needs to carry this thing through.  Seriously, because of the suspect action, the weak plotting, the shaky acting, and the failed funny bits… all of the eggs in the Drive Hard basket are placed on the hope that Cusack and Jane have enough snappy bro love dialog to drag this thing across the finish line.

They didn’t.   

BUT this is why I like both John Cusack and Thomas Jane, a pair of actors who are not strangers to showing up in throwaway, forgettable, lower budgeted movies, in that both of these cats gave it their best shots.   They didn’t Bruce Willis or Robert DeNiro their way through this cheap movie… no sir… they Tony Todded their way through this bullshit movie.  Gave it their best.  That’s why if either one of those guys are in my neighborhood, lunch is on me.  Bruce Willis has to find his own provisions.

‘Drive Hard’ is categorized as an Action / Comedy… but the action is pretty awful.  Peter is supposed to be the race car driver, but when everybody seems to be driving around 30 miles an hour, it’s hard to get caught up in the car chase scenes.  There was one nice car crash though, but it was filmed in actual slo-mo, as opposed to the slow motion that all the action scenes in this movie felt like they were filtered through.  Like the anti-thrilling chase between a bunch of a bikers and the muscle car.  30 MPH tops.  And don’t motorbikes generally drive faster than cars?  I don’t know for sure since I’m not a gearhead, but I think so.

Then we have the comedy.  Let’s leave the repartee between Jane and Cusack out for a bit and talk about the other comedy bits, such as a crazy old lady squeezing off a few in the direction of our heroes, or some dude accidentally blowing his head off with a shotgun… HARHARHARHAR!!!  Or when the cops, some good, some dirty, all shot each other to death.  That was a real rib ticker right there.  We won’t even get into the plot of why this cat stole what he stole in the first place as it was fairly worthless.

But back to Jane and Cusack, they were up to the task, at least in spirit.  You could feel them both trying to make the whole buddy road movie thing work to the best of their ability, but the script didn’t do them many favors… none actually… and as bro lovers they probably didn’t have the chemistry necessary to make that work, maybe because neither of them looked like they had slept in weeks.  My guess is that these two older dudes, both single I believe, were taking full advantage of the Gold Coast night life during their short time shooting this movie… for real.  I mean they both looked absolutely exhausted.   But alas even these two trusted vets, and a director who has been directing movies since before a lot of us were even alive, couldn’t breathe much life into this thing.

Weak action, unfunny funny bits, suspect plotting, a plodding pace and two very likable actors doing their best with next to nothing given to them usually does not equal great success, and it did not here.  But I still think BTS still has the next ‘Man from Hong Kong’ in him just waiting to get out.  Just give it time.

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