Screeching it's way to Netflix this past Tuesday is a flick I've been curious to see for quite some time, the Thomas Jane and John Cusack buddy-action-driving-comedy in Australia, Drive Hard. Directed by native low budget, big concept master Brian Trenchard-Smith, Drive Hard introduces us to Peter Roberts (The Jane) as he dreams of his previous life as a successful race car driver. After being woken up by his cute and sassy daughter, Peter hits the weights before getting into yet another argument with his lawyer wife who wants him to get a real job instead of chasing the pipe dream of opening a racing school. Making ends meet as a driving instructor, Peter's first client of the day is fellow American Simon Keller (permanently clad in black baseball cap and dark glasses John Cusack) who seems to know all about Peter's former adrenaline filled life. Turns out that Keller is about to rob a bank of bonds and needs a getaway driver so what better candidate than an unknowing citizen and former professional? The two then hit the Gold Coast eluding the banks armed mercenaries, police and federal agents while bickering, fighting and bonding amidst car chases, shootouts, old lady choke holds, rubber bullets and learning to respect oneself.
Based on a screenplay by Chad and Evan Law, director Smith and co-writer Brigette Jean Allen craft a quirky, funny and decently exciting piece of low watt direct to video fun. I was impressed by the opening CGI credits moving through an engine, as it was a sign of Drive Hard being more than your typical, shot in a couple weeks around Los Angeles action flick. Jane plays Peter as a goofy, lovable loser and has a nice, quick, funny yet tense back and forth dynamic with Cusack's intelligent professional thief with a grudge Keller. There's some solid car chase shenanigans post bank robbery with lots of real looking gags around the streets of Australia and some clever bits to show off Peter's driving skills. Things slow down a bit in the middle when the duo leave the luxurious and metropolitan coast line and head into the country. An unexpected and amusing run in with some crazy old people leads up to a final showdown with bikers hired by the bank to recover the stolen bonds. Of course by the end the two are semi buddy buddy and Peter has regained his daredevil flare that was put on hold to start a family. At times, Drive Hard plays like a piece of marketing for the department of tourism as there's lot of shots showing off the gorgeous beaches and glistening buildings then later the serene green and lush of the country. Jane and Cusack both get to shine as likeable and amusing characters while Trenchard-Smith's blend of off color humor and action suits the lightweight 95 minute romp.