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Festivale online magazine, February, 1998

Hard Rain Film Review

Hard Rain

Christian Slater seems to be carving a name for himself in action films. He’s got the right persona for it. He’s not pumped like Arnie or Sly, he hasn’t got Bruce’s implacable self confidence, Wesley’s black attitude and he can’t do the splits like Dumb-Clod Van Damme. What he has is a cocky street-wise nature. He’s the bloke with imagination, intelligence, skills and potential who hasn’t quite found what he’s good at yet. He’s likeable but not superhuman.

Minnie Driver in Hard Rain

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In Hard Rain he plays Tom, a former farm machinery salesman who’s landed an armoured car gig with his Uncle Charlie (Asner). They’re clearing the money out of the banks of the town of Huntingburg as flood waters rise. The town sheriff (Quaid) is trying to protect the town, even though the townspeople just voted him out of office. A career thief, Jim (Freeman) and his offsiders are out to get the three million dollars that Tom and Charlie are hauling.

The set up is good, as you’d expect of the guy who wrote Speed. The water’s rising, the bad guys have boats and jet-skis and know that Tom’s out there with the three mill. The sheriff and his deputies form the third side of the triangle.

There are some great set-pieces. Tom in a flooding gaol cell and a chase through a flooded school with the pursuers on jet-skis. The feel of a town turned strange and deadly by rising water is used to great effect. Most of the actors spend most of their time either tooling around in fishing boats or up to their top lip in water.

The supporting characters are finely drawn. Minnie Driver as a church restorer who first kayos Tom then becomes his only ally and Richard Dysart and Betty White as an elderly couple who refuse to evacuate.

The weakness is probably Morgan Freeman who does his usual wise older fellow role. Career thieves aren’t usually gentlemen and although Freeman’s first appearance gives the appearance that he’s supposed to be the baddest of bad-asses, his manner belies that. But his name comes first on the credits and Rule 815 of Hollywood says that if your name comes first, you can’t be a really bad guy.

Graham Yost does a couple of nice things with the script, at least one of which is described in William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade. He has the ability to use the objects that are naturally in a given environment as part of the textures, weapons and perils of the action sequences.

This isn’t the best action film ever made but it doesn’t insult the intelligence, it keeps the action at a human scale and the setting, while not entirely original, is used well. Probably good for overnight video rental on my three tier scale. (One being ‘see it on the big screen’. Two being ‘overnight rental’ and three, ‘wait for cheap weekly’.)

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Just the facts:

Title: Hard Rain (1997)
Written by: Graham Yost
Directed by: Mikael Solomon
Produced by: Allison Lyon Segan, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn, Ian Bryce, Christian Slater
Edited by: Paul Hirsch
Director of Photography: Peter Menzies, Jr

The Players: Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver, Ed Asner
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Festivale Online Magazine
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: 16-Feb-1998 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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