Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hit & Run (2012) - Movie Review

It's been a while since I've seen a good, old-school, car chase movie. I wasn't quite sure what to expect before I saw Hit & Run, but a good, old-school, car chase movie is exactly what I got.  I guess with a title like Hit & Run, I shouldn't have been surprised.

Annie (Kristen Bell) and Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard, and yes, named after that Charles Bronson) have a fairly simple life living in the middle of nowhere. Annie is a professor at a local college and is offered a huge opportunity in Los Angeles.  The problem is that Charlie is living in witness protection and can't exactly leave, and worse yet, LA is the scene of the crime.  However, time is of the essence and love trumps the risk, so he decides to drive her down there.

Unfortunately, a jealous ex-boyfriend (Michael Rosenbaum) figures out who Charlie really is and lets the criminals he ratted on (led by Bradley Cooper) know where he is.  The chase is on now between Charlie and his ex-gang, the ex-boyfriend that doesn't want Annie to leave, and the bumbling U.S. Marshall (Tom Arnold) assigned to protect Charlie. Annie isn't clear on all the details of why Charlie is in witness protection, but it doesn't take long to figure out what his particular skill set is.

Sometimes simplicity is a good thing, and that works for Hit & Run.  It's not bogged down with too many characters, cumbersome dialog or needless plot points.  Once the chase starts, there's very little rest until the movie is over.  However, you still get enough personality from the characters to care about what's going on.

If you're a car lover, you get to see a variety tearing it up.  I'm sure Adam Carolla or Jay Leno would appreciate this.  I'm not a huge car guy, so don't ask me what the makes and models were, but seeing some of these cars race around made me we want get a old muscle car and take it for a spin.  The car chases are fun and fast paced.  In fact, the whole movie just raced by.  I was shocked when I checked my watch and realized I was well past the halfway point in the movie. The chases are shot well too, as you're never confused about the action or what is going on.  I heard an interview with Shepard a few weeks back where he talked about how they made this with a very low budget.  If that's the case, then you can't tell by what's on the screen.  This looks better than a lot of big budget action films I've seen this summer.

One thing I liked about Hit & Run is how natural the dialog felt.  The dialog between Annie and Charlie is very cute and flirty, and the chemistry between the two is obvious.  I guess it should be though, since Shepard and Bell have been a couple for about five years.  They really are adorable together.  When you first meet Bradley Cooper's character, you think he's going to be a certain way, but then ends up being pretty level headed for someone that wants to get back at Charlie. People don't talk over each other or shout.  It felt very rational despite all the craziness of what was going on.  There's some raunchy stuff in here and much of the humor skews that direction, but there's plenty of funny moments throughout.  Much of the comedy relief is provided by Tom Arnold, and this is the best I've seen him since True Lies.

It's odd that I watched True Romance (R.I.P., Tony Scott) over the weekend as that's the movie Hit & Run reminded me the most of.  Not because of the car chases, but more just the general vibe. At times the original score sounded like something pulled right out of True Romance.

I've always liked Dax Shepard.  He has a casual charm about him and can be hilarious.  He's an avid car buff, so in addition to doing his own stunt driving, he also wrote and co-directed Hit & Run, (with David Palmer).  I'm impressed with his work here and hope he continues making films.  To keep the budget low, Shepard called in some favors based on some the cameos, but that's not a knock on the cast as it's a fun group.  Bradley Cooper was great as the bad guy.  He's played some asshole characters in the past, but this is a different look for him.  Kristen Bell really came out of this looking great, too.   I've always enjoyed Michael Rosenbaum, and have never figured out why he hasn't taken off since Smallville, but I always think he's funny doing comedy.  The always adorable Kristin Chenoweth has a small, but funny role, as well.

Hit & Run is a simple, charming and funny movie.  It has some high octane car chases that should please the car lovers out there and the pace of the movie never lets up.  If you were someone that was annoyed by the fact that last year's Drive didn't have enough actual driving in it, then you should enjoy this.  I really recommend checking it out.

4 (out of 5) Death Stars

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