Drive Hard Blu-ray Review
With your expectations properly lowered just about any film can be moderately enjoyable. In fact I think this is a major problem with the hype machine that now rules Hollywood. Every movie wants to portray itself as the next big thing and some of them just aren’t. A good example is the Australian film DRIVE HARD (2014) from filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith. Interestingly, the movie features two actors who have both skirted the A-list throughout their careers, the increasingly uneven John Cusack and the almost-but-never-quite-made-it Thomas Jane. Their work in this film feels a little bit too much like those movies you find in the dollar bin at Walmart, those low budget films from early in major actors careers that they probably wish they could delete from their career memory banks.
DRIVE HARD begins like a standard heist movie crossed with the buddy-cop genre that has received too much exposure in the last 20 years. Former racecar driver Peter Roberts (Jane) is living a humdrum life after giving up racing for his family. Now he feels completely inadequate in his home where he is no longer the breadwinner and his professional life is less than fulfilling, giving people driving lessons for minimal pay. One day his whole world is turned upside down when he meets a strange new client named Simon Keller (Cusack) who seems to know way too much about Roberts’ life, his family, and the impotence he feels at his position in the world.
Roberts tries to get rid of Keller but becomes an unwitting accomplice and wheelman in a major theft and soon both of them are on the run from the police and from the organized criminals from whom they stole. Now up until this point the movie has been nothing but terrible acting, bad hair (Jane’s awful extensions and Cusack’s ball cap), and worse writing but when our two leads go on the run DRIVE HARD actually has some nice moments. I should point out that none of these moments has anything to do with the ‘action’ that supposedly drives the movie; instead they are entirely character-driven moments that appear almost in spite of the rest of the script, little moments of authenticity that shine through thanks solely to the actors’ talent. This is the only time that the buddy movie tropes really shine through and actually work during the movie but sadly they don’t last very long.
DRIVE HARD is very much a mediocre and forgettable film but I wondered throughout my viewing if I wasn’t judging it too harshly simply because of the level of stars who occupy the majority of the screen time. Both Jane and Cusack have some real pedigree that they bring to the screen. Cusack’s long career has had many highs and lows but his recent film choices in particular have felt more and more like he’s reaching for something that keeps eluding him. Jane, on the other hand, has had a relatively short career but it’s been even more uneven than his costars. Putting the two together feels weird through most of the first half of the movie but is surprisingly fun as the movie enters the second act.
Sadly the poor writing catches up with the movie so it never hits its stride, primarily because the action upon which the movie is based feels rigged, offering nothing to increase the tension. Jane is never really believable as a stunt/racecar driver and Cusack’s Keller is a little too pretentious and a little too artistic to be taken seriously as a professional thief. All of this makes DRIVE HARD the type of movie you should avoid unless you want to spend an evening laughing at something that takes itself far too seriously – a fun endeavor on some evenings – just be sure you don’t come to the party expecting too much or you’ll be terribly disappointed.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1.78:1) The video for DRIVE HARD is a nice transfer, actually one of the best I’ve seen in terms of contrast and definition.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) A surprisingly good audio track immerses you in DRIVE HARD though the plot constantly reminds you that you’re watching a movie.
DRIVE HARD features zero special features.