Hit & Run movie review
We all have shameful secrets, but when we meet someone new it can be easy to consider it a clean slate. Do you share the skeletons in your closet and face the consequences? Or do you start a new life and hope the secrets are never revealed? For Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard, who also writes and directs), that question is a bit more complicated. After outing his former bank-robbing friends and hiding away in witness protection, Charlie's skeletons are a bit scarier than most.
Hit & Run opens with a tender moment between Charlie and his girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell). His past quietly tucked away, they seem like the perfectly happy couple. In fact, with actors Bell and Shepard married in real life, their magnetic charm almost feels like cheating. The genuine love comes through in the performance and it creates the backbone upon which we buy into the ridiculous antics that follow.
When Annie is offered a job in LA, Charlie is forced to re-enter the world and risk his safety. Before long his former friends (including an absurd Bradley Cooper) find out about his reappearance and come after him. Suddenly his happy new life is torn away and he's left to wonder if keeping his past a secret was the right move.
Interspersed between the comedy and drama is a pile of high octane chase sequences that turn this romantic comedy into the Shaun of the Dead of chase films. That, or an infinitely less cerebral version of Drive. Or perhaps it's just another attempt at the date movie both parties can love, a la Knight & Day, The Bounty Hunter, and Killers, except not terrible. Whatever it is, Hit & Run deftly walks the line between action, comedy, drama, and romance, telling its tale at a relentlessly entertaining pace.
Along the way, Charlie is chased by his witness protection handler Randy (Tom Arnold). Randy isn't a good cop or a good driver, and he's just as unpredictable with a firearm as any of the film's villains. His bumbling minivan antics should have been nothing more than a reminder that Tom Arnold basically did the same thing in Car Pool, but like so much of Hit & Run, his slapstick antics actually worked. What should have come off as a lame running gag was genuinely hilarious.
In so many ways, Hit & Run could have fallen flat on its face, and yet it consistently defied expectation. For how many times the film drifts into wild tangents like Bradley Cooper feeding dog food to a man twice his size, or an extended discussion on the problems of using the word "fag", it's shocking how much of it works. It's a testament to the chemistry between the actors (who are all friends in real life) that Hit & Run seems like it can get away with anything.
For as much as it's a love letter to fast cars and Kristen Bell, Hit & Run comes off as genuine and charming rather than self-interested. This may be Dax Shepard making a movie with his wife and friends, but the love behind it shines through, making for an action-comedy that's brisk and immensely fun. You get the sense that, while Shepard wasn't ever a bank robber or getaway driver, he and Bell once shared their closet skeletons all the same.