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Review: Driven (TIFF 2018)

Driven (TIFF 2018)
7 10

PLOT: The true story of auto industry giant John DeLorean (Lee Pace) who, in an effort to save his crumbling empire, gets caught up in a major coke deal orchestrated by an FBI informant (Jason Sudeikis).

REVIEW: If all you know about the DeLorean is that it’s the time machine Marty McFly drives in BACK TO THE FUTURE, fasten your seatbelts. DRIVEN has one whopper of a story to tell that’s all the more crazy being that it’s (mostly) true.

Adopting a serio-comic tone in the vein of AMERICAN MADE, this tackles the downfall of DeLorean through the perspective of his hustler neighbour, a former coke smuggler (Jason Sudeikis) who’s been flipped by a tough-guy FBI agent (a dynamic Corey Stoll) in order to protect his family. Working as their informant, he sees DeLorean as a kind of white whale that could help him get his family out of trouble once the auto magnate starts sniffing around for quick cash.

One has to give director Nick Hamm credit for making two thoroughly scummy characters likeable, with his casting absolutely spot on. Sudeikis always fares best when playing characters that are a touch seedy, and his wise-guy, hustler act is perfect here. It continues a strong run of movies at three straight TIFF’s that started with COLOSSAL and KODACHROME in 2016 & 2017. Lee Pace, as DeLorean, is also cast to perfection, although it has to be said at times he seems to be playing the exact same character he played on the late, great “Halt & Catch Fire”, although given DeLorean’s image, that’s probably not a misstep.

A quasi buddy flick, albeit one where each buddy is always trying to exploit/screw the other, DRIVEN moves like lightning, adopting a fun, light crime movie vibe. The stakes are comparatively low, with neither character in much physical danger as it goes on, as the big bad (a dealer played by Michael Cudlitz) is mostly played for laughs. Even at their worst, you kinda hope Pace and Sudeikis’s characters will walk away unscathed, even though the courtroom framing device clues you in to that’s not really the case — even if you already know the story.

The supporting cast is top shelf, with Stoll rock-solid as always, while Judy Greer has a more three-dimensional than expected part as Sudeikis’s unfailingly loyal wife. Erin Moriarty (from the under-seen BLOOD FATHER) is hilarious as Cudlitz’s coked-up moll, with her big meltdown at a DeLorean party the comic set piece of the film.

DRIVEN is probably a little too lightweight to catch-on in a big way, but it would no doubt be a smart pick-up for a streamer like Netflix who could exploit the eighties nostalgia wave where in the middle of, as well as its connection to BACK TO THE FUTURE. Even towards the end of my TIFF coverage, I found myself throughly entertained throughout. DRIVEN is a good time.

 
Source: JoBlo.com
Tags: TIFF, tiff 2018

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