|Index||2 reviews in total|
Director John Gazarian marshalled his stunt personnel for this scantily budgeted crime drama which spins a tale of an alcoholic and cuckolded dentist and his wife who, while on their way to a marital rehabilitative vacation in Reno, cross paths with members of a dope-running motorcycle gang which enables Harry, the dentist (Jake Jacobs) to have his due in the eyes of Vivian, his wife (Michele McNeill) by stealing four million dollars from the sleeping gang at its adjoining campsite. Since the bikers obtained their loot after an energetic shootout with a mob-connected drug cartel (14 dead!) which opens this affair, syndicate personnel then search for the biker remnant which is in turn trailing the retreating Harry and Vivian, and an exciting time is had by all. The script by Frank Norwood, from a story by Gazarian, is more wide-ranging than is commensurate for an action category film of this sort, and deals to a large extent with the transformation of Harry from a rather useless drunk to some sort of daredevil, an unrealistic conversion fortunately leavened with humourous bickering between the beleaguered pair. Gazarian's direction is without style, but he keeps events moving smartly and the efforts from the characters to survive the sundry carnage-filled scenes are aided by the generally effective editing of Geraint Bell, an old hand with this form of scenario, who attempts to give continuity to what is largely an absurd storyline. The acting is generally all of a piece, with most of the cast doubling as crew, but McNeill in her only film plays well and her occasional pouncing upon cues is a symptom of the sometime slapdash direction rather than of her lack of timing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
JB (Campbell) is the boss of a drug-running motorcycle gang. After a
shootout with the Mafia, they steal four million dollars in drug money
and are now on the run in the California/Nevada desert. Meanwhile,
Harry (Jacobs) and Vivian (McNeill) are a couple whose marriage is on
the rocks. In an attempt to save their relationship, they pack up their
station wagon and head to Reno, Nevada. One night, Harry comes across
JB's gang and takes the money. Now the mob is after the motorcycle
gang, and the motorcycle gang is after Harry and Vivian. After a lot of
mindless shooting, it all comes to a head at an abandoned factory in
the extreme heat of the desert. Who will end up with the money? JB's
crew is certainly a gang of goofs and JB himself looks a lot like Yakov
Smirnoff. But he has a lot of great yells. Whose voice it actually is
remains open to debate. In fact, the majority of his dialogue is
yelling at people and telling them to shut up. Most of the dialogue in
the movie is pretty inane. The Harry and Vivian section of the plot is
at least an attempt to build some sort of character, which is unusual
for this sort of movie. That was appreciated, but Harry is just so
annoying you don't really care anyway. Their constant bickering is
irritating and doesn't exactly make you root for them. One of the main
problems with Driven to Kill is that there are no likable characters,
with the possible exception of Vivian. The movie needed a strong
central character the audience can get behind. And Harry certainly
isn't it. He seems like a reject from Frasier.
Unfortunately, a lot of elements of Driven to Kill are just amateurish. There's the acting, of course, but the direction and editing needed to be faster paced. The movie just kind of plods along, and at about 105 minutes, is overlong to boot. The fact that the movie is too long enhances the dumbness of it all. You can't have a movie of that length with nothing to justify it.
On the bright side, we were introduced to such stars as "Jake Jacobs" and "Chip Campbell". If those names don't draw you in, nothing will. Interestingly, and perhaps sadly, we now know two low-budget action movie-based Chips: Mayer and Campbell. They should really team up. Write in today for what their movie or potential sitcom could be called.
Featuring the fascinatingly-titled, Kansas-like, should-have-been-a-classic song "Lady in the Night (Lady of the Night)" by Jake Hill, Driven to Kill is what happens when you mix Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) into the DTV crime/shootout scenario. The attempt was worthy, but its success is highly debatable.
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