- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Open Road Films
Reviewed by Ezra Stead
here is nothing particularly new or innovative about mixing high-octane action with crude, irreverent comedy, and that is primarily what “Hit and Run” does. Directed by David Palmer and star Dax Shepard, from a screenplay by Shepard, the film's real strength is in its quirky characterizations, which are somewhat hit or miss. Shepard and Kristen Bell, as the film's protagonist couple, are quite likable and have believable chemistry; they should, as they are engaged in real life. On the other hand, it is hard to believe Bradley Cooper as a badass bank robber thug, and Tom Arnold's bumbling U.S. Marshal shtick wears thin fairly quickly.
Shepard plays Charlie Bronson, a name he chose when he entered the Witness Protection program before he met the love of his life, Annie (Bell), with whom he lives in a small town in California. When Annie is offered her dream job in L.A., however, things get complicated, as Charlie is faced with the choice of remaining safe from his dangerous past or following the woman he loves to the city where that past could catch up to him. Of course, he takes the second option, offering to drive her to the job interview in a muscle car he had previously told her didn't run.
When Randy (Arnold), the U.S. Marshal assigned to watch over Charlie, finds out that he has skipped town, he decides to track Charlie down for his own safety. Meanwhile, Annie's vindictive ex-boyfriend, Gil (Michael Rosenbaum), also decides to tail the road-bound couple for reasons of his own. Convinced that Charlie is hiding more of a criminal past than he has let on, Gil does some digging and finds out that Charlie is actually a former getaway driver named Yul Perkins, who betrayed his bank robbing partner, Alex (Cooper), in order to avoid jail time. Gil contacts Alex, saying that he knows where to find Yul/Charlie, and the chase begins.
One interesting and rather unusual thing about “Hit and Run” is its progressive political and social ideas. Alex is introduced in a rather odd scene in which he defends animal rights by beating up and humiliating a much larger man (John Duff) who neglects and mistreats his dog, which Alex then takes from him. Later, Charlie and Annie have an argument over Charlie's use of the word “fag,” which Charlie insists he isn't using in a homophobic way, but just as a synonym for “lame.” It's a mildly funny scene that, unfortunately, covers material already done better by stand-up comedians such as Louis C.K. and Doug Stanhope. This progressive political posturing is also later undermined by an extended, uncomfortable, and largely unfunny riff on prison-rape between Charlie and Alex.
What is far less interesting and unusual is the film's heavy reliance on car chases, which seem to pop up whenever the script runs out of steam. They are well-staged and will likely please fans of that sort of thing, but they are often illogical and extremely predictable. The filmmakers save the best for last in this department and really go for broke in the final chase, which is pretty enjoyable, and the film is given an extra boost in the third act by a spirited cameo from Beau Bridges as Charlie's dad. However, the mix of violent action and crude comedy is ultimately pretty numbing, as “Hit and Run” relies too much on face-punching and car chases, and not enough on its intermittently clever writing.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of "Hit and Run" says all you need to know about where this movie falls on Universal's list of priorities. Apart from some deleted scenes, the only other bonus material on the disc is a trio of featurettes (on the cast, cars and love story) that each run just over two minutes long. In other words, they're not even worth your time.