Drive Hard

Released in 2014. Written by Chad & Evan Law. Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith. Starring John Cusack and Thomas Jane. Running time 1 hour 32 minutes. Rated NR.

I picked up this film at my local Dollar Tree thinking, “It’s only a dollar! How bad can it be? I like both actors. It’ll be fun.” Oh boy…So the film centers around a drivers education instructor (Thomas Jane) who gets kidnapped by a bank robber (John Cusack). The bank he robs belongs to the mob so the pair are not only running from the cops but from the mob, too. They sort of become friends, they drive fast, and things happen. It sounds exciting, right?

What I liked

What did I like…hmmm…I like that I only spent a dollar on this film. Seriously, I wish there was something. So much potential wasted here. One good thing sort of related to this film is that jobs were created and people cashed paychecks.

What I wished was better

What drew me to the film was the premise and the actors. So let’s break down the story a bit. Peter (Thomas Jane) used to be race car driver; but quit because his wife thought it was too dangerous once they had a child. Now he teaches drivers education. Bank robber Simon (John Cusack) pretends to hire Peter for a lesson but tricks him on the way back to the school and gets him to stop at the bank. All of a sudden, Simon comes running out of the bank yelling at Peter to start the car, he jumps in, and they drive away. They drive and have adventures. They run into the cops, the FBI (sort of), and random people until they get to the end and everyone lives happily ever after. I wanted to be happy after too…

Peter’s home life is a joke. His wife doesn’t think too much of him and his daughter actually gets excited to learn her dad was involved in a robbery, hams it up for reporters, and brags about her dad being on the run. For a guy of his size, he puts up the bare minimum of a fight against Simon once he figures out the situation he’s in. He barely tries throughout the whole film. There were times he seemed to break character in the car scenes as if he couldn’t believe how he went from The Punisher to this. John Cusack, whom I LOVE, was painful to watch here as he delivers “tough” sounding dialogue but not really caring if the lines land. His acting performance was just sad.

Technically, there are numerous issues such as Thomas Jane “shifting” the car when you can see the car is an automatic not a stick shift. The scenes shot through the windshield showing the windshield wipers going without rain as well as rain without windshield wipers and the lack of continuity when it would switch back and forth as you watch the scene. I have a pet peeve about scenes involving cops and robbers shooting at each other and missing. This happens so much in this film, it’s mind boggling.

The bank robbery was shown in short clip edits of a safe being opened by hands which leads me to believe John Cusack was filmed walking to the bank and running from the bank while all robbery shots were done by someone else 🙁 I think if Simon talked Peter into going into the bank with him and then once the robbery began, Peter could’ve started in with his impersonation of Woody Allen and Albert Brooks in a crisis situation, it would have been a little more entertaining.

The scenes with the random people at the diner, the wedding event space, and gas station might be the better moments as it gets Jane and Cusack out of the car; however, the interactions are so far-fetched and not tongue-in-cheek at all I mean, an elderly lady gets into a physical altercation with Thomas Jane and almost wins. The never ending supply of throwaway cell phones is ridiculous. Two guns? One with real bullets and one with rubber bullets. Yeah, okay, no. “Just tell them you were kidnapped. It’ll be fine.”

There are some driving scenes with fast looking cars. Until the camera pulls back for a wide shot and it appears the cars might be going 20-25 mph…such a disappointment all around. I love fast cars and chase scenes. I wish this film had some real ones in it.

Final thoughts

This film was disappointing on so many levels. It makes me sad to see such great actors in movies like this because it makes me wonder: Are they totally broke? Are they being blackmailed? Did they owe someone a huge favor? What on earth made them do this movie? Like other bad films, I do appreciate this film must have had some sort of budget which means jobs were created and people cashed a paycheck, so that’s good. Also, this film has something I have never seen before in the credits. It lists every single extra and their “role” in the film. I could not believe it when I saw it. I’m pretty sure I was never credited as an extra on the films or tv I worked on back in the 90s. That would’ve been pretty sweet, I tell ya.

This film gets a 1 out of 5 for me. It was made, it managed to get two names attached, and it credits every extra who “acted” in the film. Available on Amazon for $2.99. Watch the trailer below before spending that kind of cash… (Don’t be fooled by the quick edits in the trailer. They don’t happen that way in the film.)

Btw, the budget was $12 million (which probably went to the actors) and made only $267,030 gross world wide. Shot over 18 days on the Gold Coast of Australia. I can think of better ways to spend $12 million in Australia…

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