Hit & Run

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on September 05, 2012

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Dear Brycen Counts
Stunt Driver

Dear Brycen,

One of the best lines from your new film Hit & Run is when Kristen Bell, playing the girlfriend of a former getaway driver, observes that there's "a certain type of person" attracted to the kind of souped-up car her boyfriend drives: rapists. I laughed, but a professional gear-head like you probably felt like showing her what a hit and run really looks like. But don't worry, that singular zinger for us non-car aficionados wasn't enough to endear us to this Fast and Furious-lite. It's still a car movie--even if has less excitement than your average Nissan commercial.

The real wheelman of this film, of course, is writer/co-director/editor/star/ex-Punk'd-performer Dax Shepard. As the engineer of his own star-making vehicle, he plays a man living in witness protection after a bank job gone wrong. Life in his sleepy town gets complicated when his new girlfriend wants to move back to Los Angeles, the scene of the crime,. He volunteers to drive her cross-country to an all-important job interview, all the while being pursued by his tipped-off and ticked-off former crew. And the entire time cars control the comedy, the action, the drama, and, of course, the resolution.

Tom Arnold, playing a U.S. Marshal assigned to protect Shepard, gets the vehicular antics going when he idiotically leaves his mini-van in gear. He shoots at the windows to try and stop it, but, before the van can take out a young family, a hedge and stone fence does the job for him. More than a moment of comedy, Shepard is using your first stunt to establish the light-hearted stakes and controlled chaos that run throughout the rest of the film.

When Bradley Cooper and his two completely underused sidekicks finally join the pursuit, the first showdown takes place in an abandoned airfield. Donuts are spun, tires are screeched, but the whole thing feels like test footage in a safe environment that should have included one of those "closed course" disclaimers from television ads. Moments like this can't help but call attention to the budget, even if, from your end, it probably felt like a big flat playground for you to enjoy.

The final leg of the race includes a cool looking Baja buggy, but the most memorable beat is when it gracefully rides up the stairs of a university and comes to a nice stop. Sure, it has to take the obligatory detour down that perpetually dry L.A. River culvert (a Hollywood stunt driver favourtie location) but it only feels like a sightseeing trip of more exciting car chases from Point Blank, The Italian Job, Gone in 60 Seconds, To Live and Die in L.A. _and of course _Grease. It's fast company you're trying to keep, but this film is a little slow on the pick-up.

The filmmakers do manage to get a second funny rape joke in the film, however. Wait…is there a reason those were the only jokes I laughed at? I guess Kristen Bell was right: I really dug that souped-up car.

Squealing out here,


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