All the ingredients are there for a rip roaring exploitation heist film, but what we get is more of a made-for-television action/comedy. Comedy is really only the saving grace for DRIVE HARD. And that's probably me just being very nice trying to find something of merit in the movie. It is very evident that both Cusack and Jane are trying the best they can with the material. And when the material isn't working, they are just having fun working off of each other. The experience for me was like riding in a car with the driver continuously pumping the breaks. Pun intended.
A former race car driver (Jane) turned driver's instructor, is about to get his life turned upside down when a mysterious thief (Cusack) forces him to be a getaway driver in a bank robbery. The heist puts them both in the sights of the cops and the mob. It's a wild chase across Australia's Gold Coast.
With a plot as simple as that, what could go wrong? For starters you've got a movie titled DRIVE HARD that has some of the most boring car chase scenes I've seen in a long time. Next you have two pretty awesome actors phoning it in. About 30 minutes in I was about to shut the movie off but as lazy as they may be I found myself enjoying the banter between Thomas Jane and John Cusack. But sadly we're just talking brief moments here and there.
Whenever these two aren't on screen is when things get really mediocre. Anytime the movie would cut to the police and or mob that's when the story really felt by-the-numbers. What's to blame? Is it the director, Brian Trenchard-Smith? No. I blame the script and budget of the film. Mainly budget. Too many scenes of characters telling us about the story and not showing us. During a “high speed” pursuit Cusack's character is going on and on about how this particular heist was about revenge. Okay, fine. But wouldn't this be better if it were told in a flashback? Not during a Sunday drive, oh sorry, not during “chase” scene.
Like I mentioned earlier the banter between the two leads made me laugh a few times. There are scenes where I have to wonder if they know the script is crappy and they are ad libbing their lines? With Trenchard-Smith's background in exploitation I wouldn't be surprised if he told Cusack just to play his character from GROSSE POINT BLANK? Especially during the gas station scene.
Final thoughts. If the director was given a better script and bigger budget then DRIVE HARD might have been the film that I was hoping for? I cannot recommend this movie to anyone, not even to the fans of the talented actors involved. To those curious about Brian Trenchard-Smith, search his name on Netflix. I think they still might have some of his gems on there?