The Movie Waffler New Release Review - DRIVEN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - DRIVEN

driven review
Hoping to dig up some dirt for the FBI, a busted drug smuggler befriends auto magnate John DeLorean.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Nick Hamm

Starring: Lee Pace, Jason Sudeikis, Judy Greer, Erin Moriarty, Corey Stoll, Michael Cudlitz

driven poster

Watching Driven (director Nick Hamm’s real-life thriller based upon the pomp of John DeLorean), I’m reminded of how lucky I am not to live in America. It’s not the austere class system or that fact that you have to drive everywhere (aspects of American culture which Driven duly explores), but its ridiculous ‘dream’; a falsity seemingly as endemic and ephemeral as sunshine but which popular culture leads us to believe underpins the aspirations and subsequent motivations of an entire nation. Case in point is Driven (which is, pointedly, directed and written by two Northern Irish men, both old enough to remember DeLorean’s ill-fated Belfast production line), wherein we follow everyman (if your everyman is a busted drug smuggler pilot) Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis) as he ingratiates himself into the life of John DeLorean (Lee Grinner Pace) in order to go and grass up him to the feds (headed with inevitable menace by Corey Stoll). Throughout the film The American Dream is invoked as a reason to rat out, to make weird cars, to sell drugs. An individualistic creed which actually, inexorably, ends in a nightmare for all concerned.

driven review

That said, Driven is an enjoyable enough couple of hours in front of a screen. Sudeikis does his usual amiable guy next door (literally, in this case) schtick, which just about has enough mileage left for the time being, while the fabulous Judy Greer is slightly wasted in her role as the nagging wife (a little Greer goes a long way in this house, though). MVP however, is Pace, who plays DeLorean as a wistful, suburban guru. Pace’s DeLorean is a visionary, an innocent dreamer who simply set the bar too high and casts a zen, enigmatic figure over the Californian milieu of pool parties and late-disco dancing which is his lot. Sudeikis, as his neighbour, is both good angel and bad, perched on his shoulder encouraging DeLorean to realise his dream, before, eventually stitching him up good and proper.

[ READ MORE: LFF 2019 Review - The Irishman ]

driven review

I’m not sure if anyone would watch Driven looking for historical accuracy, but apparently most of what is depicted within is a misnomer: Hoffman barely knew DeLorean, and was a former neighbour, not the grinning chum presented here. No matter, as the screen play is written by Colin Bateman who, as evidenced by his addictive and pitiless series of crime novels under the singular ‘Bateman’ pen name, is an expert at male dynamics, that lethal blend of loyalty and competition that leads us to do each other over. The chemistry between Pace and Sudeikis is what really gives Driven its horsepower and takes us along for the ride (incidentally, if you are interested in the back story then may I recommend Neon Neon’s 2008 concept album 'Stainless Style').

[ READ MORE: LFF 2019 Review - Le Mans '66 ]

driven review

What also sets Driven apart from the usual riches to rags rat out tale is how decent Hamm’s film makes out everyone to be: Sudeikis is an amiable chancer, DeLorean a blissed out quixotic. The bad guys are the monomaniacal feds and a loose cannon drug dealer (the always reliable Michael Cudlitz), which allow us the escapist pleasures of rooting for, respectively, a grass and a megalomaniac who made some cool looking but actually pretty shit cars. Locked into this cruise control, the film runs towards a pleasantly bittersweet ending which once again shows that not all American dreams come true.

Driven is in UK/ROI cinemas November 8th.

2019 movie reviews