|John Cusack in DRIVE HARD. Or maybe RECLAIM.|
|John Cusack in RECLAIM. Or maybe DRIVE HARD.|
(Australia/UK/Germany - 2014)
Trenchard-Smith's storied history in stunt-crazed Ozploitation cinema of the 1970s and 1980s would seem to make him a natural for something like this, but he hasn't made a good film in about 25 years (no, LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE doesn't count), and DRIVE HARD exhibits none of the past style and panache that have made him such an endearing figure in cult cinema. The actual car chases are sparingly shown and unexciting, things gets bogged down in Peter's marital problems and the investigation by a hard-nosed Gold Coast major crimes investigator (Zoe Ventoura), and there just isn't much of a story here. That would be fine if the action was good, but Trenchard-Smith seems so excited to be working with name American actors again that just lets them riff their way through it. Long stretches of the film consist of Cusack and Jane doing some uninspired improv in the car, with tiresome and endless banter that usually involves a yapping Cusack being an unfunny, hectoring smartass and Jane yelling, almost like they're both trying to be Vince Vaughn, and it doesn't work. Jane, in particular, is really hard to take here. He seems to be mistaking "being really loud" for being funny. His entire performance is one long spaz attack, while Cusack, who never takes off the hat and shades, has been given a green light to do whatever he wants. Simon's final monologue to Rossi, where he blathers on endlessly about Buddha before shooting the coke-addled banker in the balls, allows Cusack the kind of self-indulgent, incoherent nonsense you would've expected from late-period Marlon Brando. Cusack was obviously given the star treatment by the producers--his personal chef is credited twice--and he responds by at least coming to work awake, which is more than you can say for his contributions to THE PRINCE, but DRIVE HARD is just a dull, dumb, and loud exercise in Cusackalyptica with an Ozploitation twist, an action-comedy that struggles to find a tone and comes up lacking in both action and comedy. (Unrated, 96 mins)
(US/Australia - 2014)
IN THE BLOOD. Feeling cheated out of his share by Gabrielle, Benjamin goes rogue and concocts his own scheme to get the Mayers' entire fortune.
Australian director Alan White really wants this to be a serious expose of child exploitation and trafficking, but it's really just a rote, formulaic B-movie, and not a very good one. It starts with Stephen and Shannon being entirely too gullible too many times, but even on a technical level, RECLAIM comes up short. It sports what may go down as 2014's most ineptly-shot car chase, which hilariously shoddy greenscreen work that moves entirely too fast and jerky and looks like a Hanna-Barbera wraparound background. Coupled with a scene where the Mayers' SUV is dangling off the side of a cliff, RECLAIM has the worst car crash CGI this side of 2011's IN TIME. Phillippe and Lefevre do what's required of them, but Cusack is in PRINCE mode here, looking haggard and sleepwalking through a Puerto Rican vacation either immediately before or after his DRIVE HARD Australian respite. Until the midway point, he really isn't in it that much and until late in the film, he's more of a henchman to mastermind Gabrielle. In some scenes, he defers to the hot-tempered Salo. Why is Cusack playing a stock heavy role that any jobbing character actor could've played? I doubt he's even reading the scripts he's given--he's choosing his films based on where they're being shot and how nice a resort the producers are willing to book him (though his personal chef doesn't seem to have made the trip for this one). Cusack's a smart actor and an insightful writer--if he was finding anything challenging or professionally rewarding about his Cusackalyptic career choices, he wouldn't resort to vaping in two different movies in a desperate effort to provide his character with some remotely interesting trait. An end caption states that over a million children are trafficked a year, adding "They're invisible and they're everywhere." These days, the same could be said for John Cusack movies. (R, 96 mins)