Those maligning the lack of a new Fast and Furious movie this year need not malign much longer; Hit & Run is here and offers an energetic, refreshing alternative to the high-octane madness of Vin Diesel and burnt rubber. Written, directed and edited by actor/comedian Dax Shepard, the film tells the story of a former getaway driver who has to help his girlfriend get to Los Angeles for a job interview within a tight timeframe. The problem? He’s supposed to be in a strict witness protection program, so speeding his girl all the way to LA runs the risk of busting his cover and alerting his former gang members who are out for revenge. Worse still is that he also runs the risk of revealing his true identity to his squeeze.
Of course, jack-of-all-trades Dax places himself in the leading role as the totally-not-suspicious Charlie Bronson. He’s a realist but also a bit of a cowboy… or maybe I’m just saying that because every time he opened his mouth to speak I couldn’t help but think of Owen Wilson. Kristen Bell, Dax’s real-life partner, plays Annie – Charlie’s girlfriend in the film. The couple’s chemistry is palpable and translates strongly onto the big screen, helping to elevate what so easily could have been a forgettable relationship into something special.
Annie’s ex-boyfriend and uber douche Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) doesn’t trust Charlie however, and chases after the pair upon discovering his true identity. Some Facebook shenanigans later and Alex Dimitri, Charlie’s former partner in crime, is also on the hunt. He’s a dreadlocked Bradley Cooper (Limitless, The Hangover) in a role that was written for him, with a thing for dogs and grudge against Charlie – the reason for which is pure gold.
Also roped into the extravagant chase is Randy (Tom Arnold), the hapless and totally inept United States Marshal who’s responsible for Charlie. Arnold has the best gags in the film, most of which involve his gun or indestructible minivan in some way. One of the best things about Hit & Run is that it maintains its brand of laugh-out-loud comedy from beginning to end – whether it’s gross out or fluffier romantic stuff. I’m still not sure if I’m completely over the gay cop and his ridiculous ‘Pouncer’ app – apparently that thing’s real?! – and I can only hope to forget the entirely egregious nude scene by this time next year. Let’s just say if life gives you lemons, don’t host a lemon party.
Filmed in an astonishing 10 weeks, Dax reportedly did all of his own driving and it shows, not because it’s bad but rather the car chases and stunts actually feel grounded and realistic – you believe that what you’re seeing is within the realm of physics and human ability. This is opposed to something like Fast Five’s utterly unbelievable albeit entertaining bank vault sequence. Alas, while the plot is definitely on the straightforward side of things, taking a good 20 or so minutes to build up speed, Hit & Run nonetheless won me over with its original mix of light and edgy fare, great casting, fun action and consistent humour.
An action comedy that never lets up once it gets going; Hit & Run is consistently funny and engaging, and boasts plenty of great gags and exciting car chases.