Hard Rain (1998), or My Problem With Hard Rain

29 06 2009

All right, this is gonna sound more like a Hard Rant rather than a review for Hard Rain (Damn, I’m  witty…), but here we go anyways. I have a number of problems with the 1998 action thriller Hard Rain.

First and foremost, I have a big problem with the overly-complicated action flick. This one is WAY more complicated than it should be. It’s all about two armored truck drivers trekking through (get this!) a hard rain in Indiana trying to stop robbers from taking the money out of the waterlogged armored vehicle. Simple, right? Should be a cat and mouse game, right? Well, not exactly. Instead, we have the money changing hands too many times, too many unimportant characters after this money, and not enough interest in the good guys to make me hope that they get it back. I wanted it between the robbers and the armored truck guys, but they wanted the police, vigilantes, and rednecks to get involved too! I couldn’t maintain my interest in any characters because they divided all the time up between a bunch of them!

Oh, and talk about pick-and-choose character development!!! How come I don’t know a damn thing about some characters, but feel like a spent two months in prison with some of them as my cellmates? Christian Slater’s Tom seems cartoonish and paper-thin, but Morgan Freeman’s character Jim gets plenty of time to soliloquy and exposit. Fuck, I feel like I knew more about Betty White in this movie than the MAIN CHARACTER!!! There’s never anything of dire importance for them to talk about, to be certain, considering the script was written by Graham “Speed 2: Cruise Control” Yost, but I would have wanted at least a bit more particulars about the man we’re supposed to be rooting for.

And a quick note: Ed Asner plays Christian Slater’s Uncle Charlie, who is also trying to find the money from the armored car. The guy was 69 when this film came out. Get that man out of the fake studio rain! He could catch a cold!!! And he could most definitely NOT catch criminals, so what’s he even there for?!?

So, back on track, I also happen to feel like there was too much zip to a story about people being bogged down by a hard rain.  Director Mikael Salomon knows how to pace a film, I’ve seen him do it well. This movie, though, is outrunning 500 mile-per-hour winds with it’s breakneck pace! If they were smart, they would mimic the pace of the storm; a rough, wild patch of storm clouds that just SITS on an unfortunate town. It would make for a great psychological thriller. But what we end up with in this confused pace is something that would have come out of Michael Bay’s storm drain (which transforms from a talking robot into a giant chrome storm drain). It’s big, dumb, loud, and fast (and let’s not forget wet, shall we?), and I couldn’t enjoy it.

The acting is really grating. It’s the typical pre-Matrix 90s action film where most of the comic relief is done via one-liners. Platitudes abound when guys like the bumbling sheriff (who also wants the money), comes out the gate with lines like: “For twenty years, I’ve been eatin’ shit; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So now I’m changing the menu. From here on, everything I eat is gonna be shit-free.” Well, I’m sure up for action after a delightful bon mot such as that! And who could forget when Tom is hit in the head with a crucifix and he utters this charming slice of hilarity: “Great, I’m gonna have people from all around the world come to see the impression of Jesus on my forehead.” Oh ho! Indeed! Plus, everyone here (yes, even Morgan Freeman) is on auto-pilot. They don’t give two shits about the craft; they’re doing this to pay the bills. I might as well be watching a temp make some fucking coffee at Kinko’s! It’s par for the course on an action movie, but I can’t help but feel cheapened by it all…

Hard Rain is the kind of movie you see on cable and wonder how well it did in theaters. You figure that a movie like this would go straight to video, with its stupid, stupid plot, its list of hungry actors, and its conspicuous lack of craftsmanship. And while it didn’t do extremely well, they somehow made it a permanent staple on networks like USA and FX with its macho action selling points. And it has action. It just doesn’t have INTERESTING action. Perhaps the networks should screen the films before they play them ad nauseum. Oh, well. I’m getting out of the elements to wash off the stank on me from this dreadful shit-storm of a film. I give Hard Rain 4 Michael Bay storm drains out of 10. Boo.

Tomorrow I get a little less hateful and present a well-structured review! Tomorrow I give you my take on Ichi The Killer!

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