Movie Review: DRIVE HARD Provides Plenty Of Soft Fun

John Cusack and Thomas Jane give it their all and save a bad movie in the process.

Sometimes you just want to watch a movie about two dudes who suddenly come together and get to be pals. They don’t know each other. They don’t like each other. They’re stuck in a nasty situation. But they have chemistry, and by the time the film ends, they are total bros. Drive Hard mostly succeeds at being one of these movies.

That’s really no small achievement considering how much this movie has going against it. The plot is pretty typical. The writing isn’t all that clever. Visually it exudes a hardcore and consistent DTV style. It just feels substandard from the moment it begins and stays that way throughout.

And yet, it has John Cusack and Thomas Jane in it, and together they offer a vital illustration of what good actors can achieve when put in a film that doesn’t deserve them. Cusack and Jane are fun to watch. They have an interesting chemistry together which makes this would be snoozefest more than just watchable. Drive Hard is actually kind of joyful, and it’s 100% their fault.

You do kind of feel sorry for Thomas Jane at first, though. He plays a former race car driver who gave it all up to raise a family. Jane really pushes a kind of dopey fun guy thing that doesn’t fit his persona in the film’s opening scenes. His character really should have a mullet - that kind of guy. This is especially pronounced when you see him interact with his upper-crust lawyer wife. The movie can’t decide if she’s a cold ball buster who hates his guts or a caring partner who has no issues standing by her man through thick and thin, and Jane’s awkward dips into Hey Dude-isms doesn’t help.

But then John Cusack comes along and steals Thomas Jane from all his domestic troubles, forcing him to instead take part in a bank robbery. See, Cusack needs a good getaway driver and figures this retired race car guy fits the bill. They don’t just rob a bank; they rob a mob bank, so getting away is really the important thing.

Endlessly sucking on a douchey vaporizer, Cusack gives one of his old school hyper performances here, completely shelving that nasty creeper thing he’s been doing lately. He’s weird, and goofy, and fun enough to support the film. He and Jane dislike each other at first, but things take an interesting turn as Jane begins to see this adventure as a way to rebel from his wife and deal with this middle-aged male malaise. Once that happens, they become BFFs and that buddy roadtrip movie magic really kicks in.

There’s not a whole lot else to say. The film has a couple stand out moments, one involving Thomas Jane getting shot with rubber bullets and one piece of great violence that kind of comes out of nowhere and tonally has no real place in the film. But mostly, this is the John Cusack/Thomas Jane power hour. Drive Hard is not a great movie, but there’s really no harm in watching these two guys hang out for a while.

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