Driving away is a better option than watching Drive Hard
Sputtering on fumes almost from the start, Drive Hard captures a well-earned checkered flag as one of the worst films of 2014.
Years ago Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane sporting an unflattering hairstyle) enjoyed the fast life as a race car driving, now his life is decidedly in the slow lane as he toils along as a driving instructor in Australia. His lawyer wife, Tessa (Yesse Spence) pays the majority of the bills and his grade school daughter fully understands who is bringing home the bacon.
A typical day of instruction goes awry quickly when his newest student driver, Simon Keller (John Cusack, Hot Tub Time Machine) pulls a gun on him and forces him to be his getaway driver for a bank robbery. Police and TV news reporters unquestionably believe Peter is in on the heist and he can’t even get Tessa to believe his innocence.
Keller offers Peter a chance to get in on the action since he really doesn’t have much to lose anyway leading to your standard mismatched outlaws on the run dynamic that you’ve seen done much better in countless other movies.
The film somewhat has a Swordfish vibe in that it would be better with roles swapped. Cusack is a more sympathetic every man while Jane has more swagger to be the edgy bank robber.
Still, Cusack and Jane have a somewhat oddly appealing chemistry. It’s wasted here, but with a better project, this pairing could actually prove entertaining. It’s a bit disappointing that Cusack and Jane aren’t getting enough quality offers and have to settle for earning a paycheck by appearing in this mind-numbing effort.
Needlessly complicating the film is a subplot of Federal Agent Walker (Zoe Ventoura) heading up a task force to bring them in, but the corrupt police department wants to let their employers get first crack at the duo.
The production is similar to a TV movie … from the 1980s. It’s difficult to see where the $12 million budget was spent unless Jane and Cusack’s salaries were $10 million and Director Brian Trenchard-Smith had to make do with the remainder.
Amazingly, the film has four credited screenwriters, but there’s nothing to suggest they earned their paycheck. The attempts at comedy are laughable … sadly for the wrong reasons. One of the film’s ‘highlights’ features a brawl with a foul-mouthed elderly woman and a motorcycle gang fight. The entertainment bar is set very low. While the premise is decent, there’s just nothing salvageable thanks to Trenchard-Smith’s inability to stage anything worthwhile here.
In a year without a new Fast & Furious, this has been a rough one for car-theme films. Speed past this while you’re browsing for a distraction on a rainy day. The only good thing Drive Hard manages is not making Need for Speed seem so terrible by comparison.