Drive Hard (2014)

(On Cable TV, September 2015) As much as I’m a good audience for car-heavy action movies, as much as I can tolerate a lot of silliness, as much as I’m willing to cut some slack to low-budget films, there’s something just off-balance in Drive Hard.  What should have been a generic action film almost-inexplicably features both Thomas Jane (looking shaggy) and John Cusack (in another low-budget role as a villain with a curiously sympathetic streak).  Such name actors unhelpfully raise the profile of a generic action buddy comedy beyond what it can be expected to achieve.  There are a few likable things about the film: Australia’s Miami-like Gold Coast is a picturesque but unusual setting, there’s a cute car chase featuring an underpowered car, and you can see how the rapport between Jane and Cusack exceeds the quality of the script they have to work with.  Unfortunately, that script brings the entire film down.  Structurally, it’s a bit of a mess, with subplots hastily cut down in a rain of bullet, the film’s best action scene placed far too early, jarring shifts of tone, an unpleasant misogynist subplot, and dialogue nowhere as smart as it thinks it is –with added bursts of extreme profanity that seem to come out of nowhere and cheapen the entire film.  I have only a small idea of the behind-the-scene story about the film’s production and hasty re-writes, but the result on-screen is a big disappointment.

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