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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Drive Hard movie review: end of the road

Drive Hard red light

A deeply terrible would-be action comedy that looks, sounds, and feels like an 80s cheap and cheesy made-for-cable movie.
I’m “biast” (pro): love Thomas Jane and John Cusack

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I’m actually astonished that it has taken this long for someone to come up with a movie entitled Drive Hard. So perhaps it’s fitting, then, that this deeply terrible would-be action comedy looks (with its cheap FX and bad editing), sounds (with its cheesy, overbearing score), and feels (with its dumb story and slumming movie stars) like an 80s made-for-cable movie. Former race car driver Thomas Jane (The Mist), now working as a driving school instructor, is kidnapped by generic bad guy John Cusack (Grand Piano) to drive him around Australia’s Gold Coast region while he engages in some generic bad-guy business (pissing off other, more powerful bad guys, etc), leading to poorly shot and embarrassingly padded-out car chases, idiotic shenanigans such as an encounter with a foul-mouthed old lady, and some random homophobia. It’s never clear why Cusack can’t be driving himself around, and indeed, this would have saved us from the palpable lack of chemistry between the two stars and their cringe-worthy discussions about such profound topics as How Awful Women Are. The movie purports to have a script — by four credited writers including the director, Australian cult filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith (DC 9/11: Time of Crisis) — but it all sounds like Jane and (mostly) Cusack are improv’ing the most ridiculous bullshit they can think of on the fly. None of it is in the least bit humorous. The only remotely interesting aspect of this piece of junk — and it’s a depressing one — is in how it serves as yet another exhibit in the argument that cinema is dying fast: John Cusack and Thomas Jane are each really good, really charismatic actors who are (theoretically) in the prime of their careers. They should be getting bombarded with so many great scripts that they couldn’t possibly accept all of them. If even they are reduced to this, the art form is in big, big trouble.

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Drive Hard (2014)
US/Can release: Oct 03 2014 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: direct to DVD

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 15 (very strong language, strong violence, sex references)

viewed at home on a small screen

more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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  • rick

    Has John Cusack’s career really fallen this far?

  • RogerBW

    And while I’m not particularly a fan of Trenchard-Smith’s work, he seems to be reasonably respected as a horror and action director. Even if he did make Leprechaun 4: In Space.

    I’ve just started reading Save the Cat

  • He’s also in the new Cronenberg movie, *Maps to the Stars* (which I finally saw today), so there’s that. But… yes. Sad.

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