Directed by Nick Hamm
‘A vehicle film for a fantastic Lee Pace which ultimately doesn’t make it out the garage!’
Sipping red wine courtesy of Soho Screening Rooms waiting for the start of Driven, I wonder what’s in store as I know nothing of the film, premise or trailer. As we open on a bright blurred corridor, walking towards us are a group of men, with the press in the background shouting and leering. Here we meet Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis) who is about to go on trial and Special Agent Benedict Tisa (an always terrific Corey Stoll) coaching him on what to say. Through this trial our story unfolds and characters are introduced. Driven is set in the 80’s & the fashion is extremely on point, even if Lee Pace’s shorts are a little too short and tight (my eyes will never recover). But this story is about a desperate man, the police and a dreamer.
Jason Sudeikis’ portrayal of the cunning Jim is mediocre, playing it safe flexing his ‘comedy’ chops, which sometimes works but other times fails completely. However, this film is about John DeLorean (Lee Pace). John is desperate to make the car of the future and will do anything to make it a success, queue a blossoming ‘friendship’ with Jim. Ellen (Judy Greer) is Jim’s put-upon wife, always there for him and their two kids. John’s wife Cristina (Isabel Arraiza), playing the rich wife with a heart, is supportive of her husband, and is a joy to watch.
The story ‘based on real life events’ is simple. However, I have to say it is played through a weak script which doesn’t allow us to fully invest in the events nor characters for that matter. This is the film’s main problem - the script. It doesn’t care too much for its female characters. Whether that is supposed to resemble what it was like for women in the 80’s I am unsure, but it is weak in its vision of female characters. To be honest the male ones do not fare better either, apart from one. The film feels the weight of it through its running time (which is only 108 minutes, bear in mind I thought It: Chapter 2 was a breeze). However Driven feels much longer, many scenes not needed, or could have been cut short allowing for more explanations somewhere else within the film that needed it. The whole cast do their best with what they’ve been given, but it’s not enough to save it.
However, where this film does succeed is in the casting of Lee Pace. The way in which he carries himself throughout the film, never breaking character with scene-commanding strength no matter what, is utter brilliance and for me is this films saving grace. Even if his shorts may be a little too tight, but I can forgive that. The character of John DeLorean is a complex one - you understand his longing to always do what’s right, even for other families which unfortunately results in making some bad decisions. You understand his desperation. You understand his longing to always better himself.
Driven is an average film. Though parts of the cast make it a little easier to follow (through commitment to their character) plus the added detail of a fabulous 80’s backdrop, in the end it’s the lazy writing which lets this film down. Bad character development, unnecessary scenes, bad pacing and a poor script leave you missing that big payoff which ultimately never comes.