Sunday 17 November 2019

Brave mix of genres more hit than miss

Gavin Burke

Hit & Run

(15A, general release, 100mins)

Directors: David Palmer, Dax Shepard. Stars: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold


Mixing genres can be a dangerous affair. Toughest to pull off is the horror-comedy -- the spooks and the laughs have to be scary and funny respectively and one can't diminish the other -- but near the top is the action romantic comedy.

Action comedies, yes, but chucking in romance seems to offset everything. Get it wrong and your movie could be Bird On A Wire or This Means War, but get it right and it could be Romancing The Stone or Grosse Pointe Blank.

Although Hit & Run never reaches the heady heights of the good 'uns, it never comes near the pits either.

Dax Shepard writes, co-directs and plays Charles Bronson, a former pro driver now in the witness protection programme for eyeballing a murder.

When girlfriend Kristen Bell is given the choice of a job in LA or losing the one she has, Charlie, unwilling to let this one good thing he has go, offers to drive her, thus leaving the programme, which is something his friend and programme liaison Tom Arnold advises against.

Once on the road, the trip is beset by Bell's jealous ex Michael Rosenbaum, who not only gives his state trooper brother a heads up, but also gets in touch with Bradley Cooper's dread-sporting bad guy, who went to jail on the back of Shepard's confession. Arnold isn't far behind either.

Judging from this, Shepard is a fan of True Romance and Midnight Run (aren't we all?), but resists the temptation to mine those influences for gags.

The dialogue is sharp and bouncy with the visibly comfortable real-life couple Shepard and Bell sharing a real rhythm with a snappy back-and-forth.

Characters may never act like one might in these situations, and action fans will lament the presence of real action sequences, but there's a perpetual motion to Hit & Run that's seductive and events are always entertaining, despite the convoluted set up and predictability of it all.

A welcome break from the studio-led constrained generic action rom-coms of late, Hit & Run has all the earmarks of real freedom running through it.

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