out of Five
Running time: 100
Enjoyable, fast-paced comedy-thriller with well written characters, decent chase sequences, a frequently funny script and superb performances from Shepard, Bell and Bradley Cooper.
What's it all about?
Co-directed by Dax Shepard (who also wrote the screenplay) and David Palmer, Hit & Run stars Shepard as Charlie Bronson, a former getaway driver living happily in witness protection with his girlfriend Annie (Kristen Bell, Shepard's real-life partner), who doesn't know about his criminal past. However, when Annie gets a job offer in Los Angeles, Charlie decides to risk getting his cover blown by driving her to her job interview, even though the gang leader he put in prison (Bradley Cooper as Alex), has recently been released and is looking for him.
Things quickly get complicated when Annie's jealousy-crazed-ex Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) works out who Charlie really is and gets a message to Alex. Soon Charlie and Annie are being pursued by Gil, Charlie's hapless parole officer Randy (Tom Arnold), and Alex and his gang, and so Charlie realises he's going to have to tell Annie the truth.
Shepard and Bell are both terrific as Charlie and Annie, their real-life chemistry thankfully translating to the screen and making their relationship seem entirely believable. There's also terrific support from a strong comic cast that includes Michael Rosenbaum (very funny, even if it is still odd seeing him with hair after years of playing Lex Luthor on Smallville), Tom Arnold and a scene-stealing Bradley Cooper, who's brilliantly cast against type as Alex and manages to be surprisingly scary.
As a writer/co-director, Shepard gets the balance between comedy and thriller elements exactly right, ensuring that the humour comes from the characters and dialogue, while the thriller side of things is played straight. To that end, the direction is suitably fast-paced and Shepard (who's clearly something of a car fan) orchestrates a number of exciting chase sequences that are refreshingly free of choppy editing and flashy camera moves, unlike certain recent chase sequences one could mention.
The sparky dialogue is frequently very funny but there is the occasional misfire, such as an exchange relating to certain popular prison activities that nudges into homophobia and consequently seems like it belongs in a different film.
Hit & Run is an enjoyable Friday night thriller that succeeds thanks to lively, energetic direction, likeable characters, some genuinely exciting chase sequences and strong performances from a superb cast. Recommended.