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DRIVE HARD (director/writer: Brian Trenchard-Smith; screenwriters: Evan Law/Chad Law/Brigitte Jean Allen; cinematographer: Tony O’Loughlan; editor: Peter Carrodus ; music: Bryce Jacobs; cast: John Cusack (Simon Keller), Thomas Jane (Peter Roberts), Zoe Ventoura (Agent Walker), Christopher Morris (Rossi), Yesse Spence (Tessa Roberts), Jerome Ehlers (Bank Chairman), Damien Garvey (Detective Chief Inspector Smith), Christopher Sommers (Gas Station Attendant), Francesca Bianchi (Roberts’ Daughter); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Pam Collis/Paul O’Kane; RLJ/ImageEntertainment; 2014-Canada/Australia)
“Mildly entertaining despite being so inane.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A goofy action comedy that’s casually directed by the Aussie Brian Trenchard-Smith(“Aztec Rex”/”Absolute Deception“/”Turkey Shoot”), a former director of grindhouse exploitation movies. It’s mildly entertaining despite being so inane. The director, who started making films in 1972, co-writes it with Brigitte-Jean Allen and the Indiana raised Law brothers, Evan and Chad. It’s set on Australia’s Gold Coast. Though it’s dreck, it’s not as bad as it could have been if it tried to take itself seriously.

The American Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane) was a former champion race driver who now is working as a lowly driving instructor because his nagging lawyer Aussie wife (Yesse Spence) wanted him to quit and take a safer position. They have a snooty adolescent daughter (Francesca Bianchi) who attends an elite Aussie private school, and who follows mom in thinking dad doesn’t deserve to be respected.At work, the despondent Peter’s 9 am driver lesson client, the clad in all-black American Simon Keller (John Cusack), while in the middle of his lesson, stops to rob an international bank of nine million dollars of securities. At gunpoint he forces Peter to be his getaway driver. Because the bank, run by the slimy American Rossi (Christopher Morris), is suspected of money laundering, the officious federal agent Walker (Zoe Ventoura) takes over the investigation from the local bullying crooked chief of detectives (Damien Garvey) and the bank’s books are confiscated for a federal investigation.

On the road Peter and Simon awkwardly bond, as the arrogant gun-toting Simon lectures his meek hostage on how he can get his wife to respect him by taking the three million dollars in stolen bonds offered to drive him to a place in Australia where Simon can safely flee the country. There are plenty of uninteresting car chases involving the bank’s private security hit teams and the federal police chasing the bank robbers. The comedy set pieces make you cringe because they’re so embarrassingly awful. In its incredulous but conventional end all loose ends are tied up in a heavy-handed pat manner and there’s also a crowd-pleasing happy ending for nice guy Peter.

The story was ludicrous and the comedy was not that funny, but it might work if you catch it late at night on cable TV when you can’t sleep and have run out of sleeping pills. Otherwise it might be watchable only for those curious critics or fans who wish to see how far in recent times Cusack has fallen from getting A-film roles and how much punch Trenchard-Smith has lost in his film-making abilities.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”