Hit And Run (M)(99 min)
Directed by David Palmer and Dax Shepard.
Starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper.
I've been sitting through the trailer for Hit and Run for months now. And every time it's played, my hopes for the film have sunk a little lower. The trailer looks like an exercise in picking the bones out of a deeply mediocre film, cherry picking a few moments of surpassing crassness, and generally hoping for nothing more than a short theatrical run to bolster the films profile when it hits the DVD shelves later in the year. So when the day came to watch it, I slumped into my seat with my expectations through the floor, and no great enthusiasm for what was about to unfold. Which, as anyone who sees too many films knows, is the ideal condition in which to be ambushed by a pleasant surprise.
Hit and Run follows Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell (who are engaged in real life. Aww) as they try to escape Shepard's old mates in crime, and deliver Bell to Los Angeles in time for the job interview that could turn their lives around. He was once a getaway driver for a bank heist mob, but he turned witness on his cronies, and now lives - under the assumed name ‘‘Charlie Bronson’’ - in a small town a long way from anywhere. Bell's Annie knows that by taking the job in LA, she is going to a place that her boyfriend might not be able to follow. But, Charlie reckons that after four years away, the coast should be clear enough to risk a return in order to stay with his love. ‘‘After all’’, he says, ‘‘LA's a big place...’’ Which might have been true, had Annie not had an obsessive ex, who by an all too credible series of coincidences, manages to crack Charlie's true identity, and pass it on to his old gang leader.
Pursued by bank robbers, a creepy ex, and the long suffering cop charged with keeping Charlie safe, a road trip/chase movie ensues. Car chases jostle for space with ongoing gags, some genuinely odd and unexpectedly provocative dialogue fleshes out the bones of the central relationships, and a good cast bring the whole enterprise to life in a completely enjoyable fashion. Made on a tight budget, written as a labour of love by Shepard himself, co-directed with an old friend, and peopled by Shepard and Bell's friends and colleagues, this is a film that has not had the life ironed out of it by the studio exec's, and that is a thing always worth celebrating.
At times, it began to remind me of Tony Scott/Quentin Tarantino's True Romance. It's there – a little – in the story, in the references to other movies, in Bradley Cooper's moth eaten dreadlocks, and in a few moments when the soundtrack seems to be consciously parroting Hans Zimmer's work in True Romance. I don't believe that Shepard or David Palmer are ever going to make a film as enjoyable as one of Scott's best. But for a few moments at least, they did remind that I'm going to miss my annual traipse to the multiplex to watch Scott's latest. Hit and Run isn't great, but it is energetic, mischievous, and knows exactly when to end.
- © Fairfax NZ News