‘Hit’ the ground, ‘run’ to see this flick

By Brian Duskey

September 1, 2012

It has a generic title and it’s a plot that we’ve seen before, but somehow Dax Shepard’s directorial debut film “Hit and Run” is one of the “coolest” and easily the most surprising film to come out this summer. “Hit and Run” tries to create a smooth combination of comedy, car chases and nostalgic 1970’s rock songs and the result isn’t anything “artistic.” It won’t make you think or reevaluate yourself. No film school will be analyzing it, and it’s not going to be on any film critic’s top ten list. However, it creates a fun experience for the audience. While it isn’t as hard-nosed as Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” or definitely not as intense as Nicolas Refn’s “Drive,” it is a fine piece of entertainment and a very “cool” movie. Every single car chase, shoot-out, and bloody brawl in the film are pushed to the highest level of exuberance with erratic cinematography and chilling usage of such classic rock songs as Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” and Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion." Shepard plays Charlie Bronson, who is in the witness protection program for being the get-away driver for a series of bank heists. However, his charmingly kind girlfriend, Annie, played wonderfully by Kristen Bell, is lead to believe that he was just the witness to a murder. Annie’s oddly obsessive ex-boyfriend, Gil, discovers the truth about Bronson’s background and calls up the man that Bronson has been hiding from for all these years: Alex Dimitri, who is played quite convincingly by Bradley Cooper. The remainder of the story is a simple cat-and-mouse game between Shepard and Cooper, but not in the traditional sense. Shepard’s “Bronson” is not frequently trying to escape and he doesn’t want the money. His single motivation is to get Annie to Los Angeles for her job interview at California University for her dream job as the head of the “Non-Violent Conflict Resolution” department. The real noteworthy performances come from Shepard and Bell. Their on-screen chemistry is simply addicting. Too often in romantic comedies do we see a couple that seems to be “in love” but we don’t really understand why. We just accept it because the narrative tells us so. This is not the case. Whether it is their frequent witty banter with one another or their selflessness towards each other, the audience can truly believe that these two are madly in love. A strong euphoria was constant during their intimate scenes. The film is definitely not perfect. While it’s easy to tell that Shepard is very passionate about the script and vision, the story does lack some character background and structure. It takes about 35 minutes before we even see Dimitri and, even then, the film’s main conflict doesn’t arise until the one-hour mark. Despite it’s faults, “Hit and Run” excels at entertaining the audience and, at the end of the day, is one cool movie.