REVIEW: Drive Hard (2014) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Drive Hard (2014)

Runtime: 95 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: Failed humor and Sunday driving

I sort of had high hopes for this movie, or at least as high as would’ve been reasonable for a DTV movie.  It was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, who directed one of the best TV movies you’d probably ever see, so far as TV movies go in Sahara (1995).  It was also to star Thomas Jane and John Cusack, in a chase movie featuring Ford Mustang Mach 1s and Ford Falcon GTs.  But as you’d probably have guessed from the trailer, it hasn’t turned out that way.  Drive Hard, formerly known as Hard Drive, has perpetual and terminal turbo lag.  This is a movie with Sunday driving and is hardly a laugh a minute.

Thomas Jane is a former professional race driver now wasting his skills as a part time driving instructor.  When electronic cigarette smoking nut John Cusack books a fake driving lesson, he abducts Jane and forces him at gun point to be a wheel man in a heist and use his driving skills to evade both the cops and the mob, who are chasing them.  Or not, as it turns out.  On a comedic misadventure, they must transport the loot of nine million to a boat, so that Cusack can make his escape.  The thing is that this movie is, or certainly its title at least, is misleading.  It’s no chase movie, I’d rather call it a ‘road movie’, because it mostly features Jane and Cusack arguing on quiet roads in the Australian countryside in a car, without anyone in pursuit.  And not the funny type of arguing either, the overwrought, over-acted quarreling type of arguing.

And that’s the real problem with the movie.  It’s probably the first (and last) time a 351 Mach 1 Ford Mustang – a right hand drive version no less, appears alongside a Ford Falcon GT – that’s the car from Mad Max.  Two classics from other ends of the world are on set and even in one shot, but not used effectively.  It’s a shame both weren’t involved in a chase with each other.  When the Mustang eventually is involved in a chase with some other vehicles, it’s timid and deflating.  The car is clearly observing the speed limit which looks to be 30mph, with the director trying to pull some tricks to disguise it.  It doesn’t work, and the director doesn’t seem to care.  He’s clearly not a ‘car guy’.

If there’s one thing to put forward in this movie’s defense though, amid the giant plot holes and horrible acting, it’s not a movie for kids, which is a benefit of going DTV.  You can throw caution to the wind.  There’s some coarse and typically ‘Australian’ humor in there, which isn’t entirely politically correct.  But it’s hardly enough and pretty much blink and you’ll miss it.  Since this action comedy fails at both action and amusement, you’re left to scrutinize the bargain-basement plot of police corruption and callous banksters.  And with such poor writing, you don’t want to spend 90 minutes doing that.

What should’ve been a speedy little B-Movie winds up featuring Jane and Cusack granny-shifting through the motions in cars that have CGI exteriors pass by outside.  A waste of time.