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Drive Hard

Year: 2014
Production Co: Odyssey Media
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: Brigitte Jean Allen/Chad Law/Evan Law/Brian Trenchard-Smith
Cast: Thomas Jane, John Cusack, Zoe Ventoura

Any time you hear him in interviews, John Cusack seems really disinterested in the movies that have made him a star, wanting to portray himself as an indie film artist and ignoring the fact that most of his audience has been from the early teen comedies of Savage Steve Holland and mainstream movies like Con Air and 1408.

So if he wants to be an artiste, I'd love to hear him explain how he ended up in this crap. It also proves that just because a director has been in the game a long time, doesn't make them good. Maybe the reason Brian Trenchard-Smith made such an impression in the exploitation genre years ago is because his style uniquely suits its over-egged nature.

In this attempt at a mainstream action comedy, the laughs aren't funny, the action isn't exciting and the characters are cardboard cutouts ripped unceremoniously from a hundred other far superior films. The entire thing falls in a heap and looks like it came from a film student with no experience in editing (which is what makes it so surprisingly for Trenchard-Smith, who started his career editing trailers) or directing actors. A dumb script doesn't help.

I'm also always wary of putting big name American actors in the lead roles of Australian movies – it seems like a cynical grab for an international audience like we saw in everything from Razorback to Rogue.

Looking ridiculous with long curly hair, the perennially uninteresting Thomas Jane is Peter, an American expat and former getaway driver now barely making a living as a driving instructor on the Gold Coast. When fellow Yank Simon (Cusack) books him for a lesson, he ends up taking the hapless instructor to the city, asking him to wait outside while he goes to the bank.

Simon runs back out – suitcase in hand and shooting at the cops after robbing the place – jumps back in the car and tells Peter to gun it. In the first of several glaring implausibilities, Peter agrees to outrun the cops rather than pull over and give up, complaining all the while but making himself an accomplice and Simon's erstwhile partner.

Their bickering relationship – while the federal police and Peter's wife and daughter are left behind trying to pick up the pieces – is no doubt supposed to be funny in a homage to countless buddy cop/criminal movies. It's not.

Everything about this film is cliched, cheap and badly done. Not even the car chases are any good, because as Trenchard-Smith himself told reporters while he was promoting the movie, he had to use editing to make the car chases seems exciting while not actually damaging any of the cars.

For all Hollywood's faults, at least a decent sized American studio would have had the money to buy dozens of cars and crash them all. As this movie stands, the only thing threatening to crash is John Cusack's career (because honestly, what's Tom Jane done lately?).

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