Hard Rain (1998)
Star power and good intentions try hard to keep this armored car robbery thriller afloat but ultimately come up short. Still with Morgan Freeman along and the backdrop of a town flooded by a rising river it has it’s moments. For me it comes across as a failed opportunity that harkens back to the forties and the era of the Warner Brothers cycle of gangster films. Think Criss Cross on water. Lancaster vs, Duryea.
The plot moves at a brisk pace with dialogue filler almost as an after thought to explain the jumps in plot and logic. Ed Asner and Christian Slater are armored car drivers who have millions in the back of their truck that has become flooded out and stalled awaiting the national guard to arrive by boat and take the money and our guards to safety.
Before help arrives Morgan Freeman and his inept gang show up guns blazing to claim the cash. With Asner conveniently out of the way Slater bags the money and hides it from the criminal element. And so the chase begins.
Along the way Slater is going to run into Sheriff Randy Quaid and his deputies who are hanging back to prevent looters from turning up and to try and get nutty Betty White out of her house and to safety. Quaid believes Slater’s story of thieves and goes into action. Slater meantime has an opportunity to connect with his leading lady. It’s Minnie Driver who gets in on plenty of the action throughout. One minute she’s saving Slater from the rising waters only to be the fair damsel in distress the next.
The film plays like a cross between a modern day non stop action film and old school Noir. It was written by Graham Yost who gave us Speed so the action quotient should be expected. For us Canadians, we all know that Graham’s father was Elwy Yost who championed classic cinema on his weekly television show so perhaps the Noir(ish) plot and night time setting is intentional. There are plenty of double crosses and killings to play themselves out in one night of bloodshed and a dam that can’t hold the waters back.
The film feels like it’s trying to mix the success of Speed with the Christian Slater character from John Woo’s Broken Arrow. As a matterof fact we even have a church shootout with some birds/doves flying around at one point. A John Woo signature scene.
There’s a bad mixture of comedy in here among the bloodshed with Betty White nagging her elderly husband to the point he finally tells her what we all have been wishing for. The film was directed by Mikael Salomon who is still active today on shows for cable like Coma. Slater as we all know has disappeared from the leading men list of call ups when needed. Instead he’s showing up in nothing roles like Walter Hill’s Bullet in the Head. Too bad as I kind of liked him back in the day.The last I heard of Randy Quaid he’s living in exile in Canda hiding out from “starwhackers” and Morgan Freeman is now a bonafide screen legend of our times.
This quick moving time waster is easy to find if you’re in the mood. Just wish it was a little better as I love a heist film and the setting for this in a flooded out town is pretty cool.