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A former race car driver turned driver's training instructor (Jane) is abducted by a mysterious thief (Cusack) and forced to be the wheel-man for a crime that puts both in the sights of the cops and the mob and leads them all on a chase across Australia's Gold Coast.Written by
Hostage comedies are rare movies. There are a handful that have a name for themselves, but very few are memorable in the vein of the action genre. It's questionable to why these particular match-ups don't work. Possibly incorrect casting? Maybe a very loose script? I don't know. However, it is certain that this production just didn't have what it took to be anything out of the ordinary. Other than some minor elements that make this viewing less than barely passable, the rest of it just doesn't feel like it's worth the time. This movie actually is somewhat parallel to that of Stand Off (2011) starring Brendan Fraser.
Not only are main leads Thomas Jane and John Cusack stuck in a foreign country and surrounded by foreign actors (just like Fraser) but so is the situation. Both are hostage situations, except Fraser's was in a single building, this film involves motion. After having a successful career in sports racing, currently ex-racer Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane) settles down with his wife and kid in Australia. There he makes a mediocre living of reliving his past by working as a driving instructor. There, Roberts bumps into Simon Keller (John Cusack), a thief who's supposedly so good at his job, no one has been able to catch him. However, Roberts doesn't realize this until Keller robs one of the biggest banks in the country and is offered a chance to take some of the robbed money. It's not the worst of plot setups but the all around execution is meager by comparison.
One of the biggest issues and downright obvious flaws is John Cusack and Thomas Jane's chemistry. In a way, it feels as if both actors are not acknowledging their co-stars personality, therefore not registering what types of responses they should answer with to make the conversation funny. Instead a lot of the interplay doesn't connect with its audience. Occasionally, the leads may have one or two humorous exchanges but it's very infrequent. Thomas Jane plays his character as if he's clueless; most likely due to Jane having very few comedic roles under his belt. Jane is funnier when he plays his character deadpan,...which is exactly how John Cusack plays it up. Cusack also looks like he enjoyed playing his character as some lazy antihero. Again though, nothing that was really special.
The only other redeeming element to this production is the fact that the rest of the cast is Australian,..which provides the audience with a different listening experience. Mostly this credit belongs to actors Zoe Ventoura, Christopher Morris and Damien Garvey. Other than that, every other character is forgettable, yet there are still other additional characters added in the film for no reason. An example of this is Peter Roberts' daughter. The story could've just been written for Roberts and his wife - excluding his annoying daughter. As for anything else, nothing is very promising. Along with its hit and miss tone provided by the main actors' antics, the subplots here are too many to care about. Writers Chad and Evan Law pack the screenplay with different characters and motivations that not only make it feel bloated but also cliché. What a surprise that someone's crooked as an undercover thief. Been there done that.
It's no wonder that the film's direction wasn't any better, considering the man directing it was Brian Trenchard-Smith. This is the same guy behind Leprechaun 3 (1995) and Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996),...that should say enough. And with below average directing comes below average music, action and camera-work (also with weird job placement). Tony O'Loughlan who normally works on visual effects was designated cinematographer and it is flat as can be. There are some wide shots of what is supposed Australian landscape but it's kind of hard to tell. The special effects are almost non-existent and when they are, they look mediocre. Not cheap, just mediocre.
Bryce Jacobs' score wasn't impressive either. Much of the instruments used were guitars involving rock tunes. If Jacobs was looking for rock, he should've went to composer David Sardy for inspiration. With scores like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) and Zombieland (2009), Sardy could've helped Jacobs at least make one hard knuckled composition. Occasionally Jacobs will resort to a reoccurring electronic theme for the chase scenes, which are kind of toe tapping but is also easily forgettable. Making matters worse is that the action scenes are painfully boring. Quick edits and constant shootouts do not constitute as acceptable action sequences for a plot that involves driving. For the whole running time, only one car flips,...one. There was certainly more that could've been done to improve the quality here; but no one saw a need I guess.
With an awkwardly written tone, half inspired music, flat camera-work and dull action, Thomas Jane and John Cusack barely salvage what's left of this jumbled mess of a movie. The supporting Australian actors are interesting to watch along with the two leads but it's hardly adequate to entertain many viewers.
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