Hit and Run is a self-made star vehicle, unquestionably crafted with love by writer, director, producer, stuntman, prop-wrangler, likely caterer, and lead actor Dax Shepard. That being said, he’ll have to accept being overshadowed by the billion-bulb star wattage of his scene partner (and fiancé) Kristen Bell here. Shepard plays Charlie Bronson, a former getaway driver hiding from some thugs in a sleepy American town with Annie (Bell), his none-the-wiser girlfriend. When she gets the chance to apply for her dream job in Los Angeles, he breaks free from his Witness Protection shackles and risks getting killed merely to stay by her side. The film makes a convincing case that she’s worth the gamble.
So begins a road trip, with Shepard’s own muscle car – a 1967 Lincoln Continental – taking centre stage, lit as lovingly and affectionately as Bell. Hot on their tail is Annie’s psychopathic ex Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) and Charlie’s hapless keeper, closeted U.S. Marshall Randy (Tom Arnold). Eventually, Bronson’s bank-heisting buddies (Bradley Cooper, Joy Bryant, Ryan Hansen) get word that he’s back in town, and seek him out. Cooper sports a spectacular mane of dreadlocked blonde-hair that really does deserve its own sentence, and that is what I’m providing for it right now.
Hit and Run quickly finds its footing as a madcap, Cannonball Run style car flick, with everyone swapping automobiles every so often, and Charlie and Annie eventually commandeering a ridiculous Tatum Baja (also Shepard’s) on the L.A. highway. Shepard and co-director David Palmer deliver some surprisingly slick action sequences. It’s in the dialogue that the movie falls a little flat. Think of the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs, except super tentative and filtered into infinity. Characters spew offensive racial and sexual lines, and are then called out on them by other characters, as if the screenwriter wants us to know that he really doesn’t agree with what these guys are saying.
Nonetheless, Hit and Run has its moments, looks far better than it ought to, and features a heap of committed performers having a lot of fun and making some really interesting choices with their hair. Normally it’d be an insult to say the most interesting thing about a movie is one of the actor’s do’s, but seriously, you’ve got to see this thing sitting on Cooper’s head.
Hit and Run hits Australian cinemas September 6, 2012.