Review: DRIVEN Spins Its Wheels

driven car
(B-F) Lee Pace as John DeLorean and Jason Sudeikis as Jim Hoffman in Universal Pictures Content Group’s crime thriller comedy DRIVEN. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures Content Group.

Driven, written by Colin Bateman and directed by Nick Hamm, is a new crime drama that hopes to capitalize on the recent success of other similar “so crazy it HAS to be true” stories. However, unlike those other films, Driven largely fails because it lacks a sense of humor (even despite having a great comedian in the lead role).

This movie follows a drug smuggler who, after being caught by the FBI and being forced to work as an informant, involves the failing automotive “genius” John DeLorean in a drug deal, ultimately leading to the downfall of the DeLorean Motor Company. Already chronicled in the meta-documentary Framing John DeLorean that came out earlier this year, this story is undeniably insane — if only it were told in a way that was interesting.

The biggest issue with Driven is that it is unable to keep your interest. Unlike similar films such as the Tom Cruise-starring American Made, Bateman’s script is completely devoid of any sense of lightness or playfulness. As such, we are left watching a straight-faced caper movie at which we can’t help but think we are supposed to laugh, but there just aren’t many jokes (and many of the jokes that are there fall flat).

Additionally, the film takes far too long to get started, and by the time it does get started, you may already be checked out of the story. There are some great moments throughout, but those bits are spread throughout a bunch of material that didn’t really need to be seen. Had the story been streamlined a bit, this would have made an excellent hour-and-a-half-long movie. As is, it’s a mediocre two-hour film.

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(L-R) Lee Pace as John DeLorean and Jason Sudeikis as Jim Hoffman
in Universal Pictures Content Group’s crime-thriller comedy DRIVEN. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures Content Group.

Another mistake that the movie made was featuring the informant as the protagonist as opposed to DeLorean. Even though the informant is an everyday guy with whom the audience may be able to identify more easily, DeLorean is a far more well-known and interesting figure. Although the purpose of this seems to be to play off of the mysterious elements of his personality, a switch in the perspective of the film would have gone a long way to make the movie more entertaining.

Lee Pace does a good job as the car mogul, although the makeup and hairstyling for him is horrendous — the wig and eyebrows are distractingly fake. Yet he almost sells the character because of his ability to capture the figure’s arrogant personality, especially during scenes in which he is behaving competitively. Pace has great chemistry with Jason Sudekis, the other lead, although Sudekis feels criminally underused in a bland role.

The film also lacks the visual style that could have made the movie feel more authentic. Apart from a solid soundtrack and decent production design and costuming, very little is done to make you feel like you are back in the 1980’s. A bit more flair in terms of the cinematography and editing really could have helped catch the eye and maintain the audience’s attention.

Driven had the potential to be another great true crime comedy — the story and the talent in front of the camera are there — it just didn’t result in a film that was as entertaining as it should have been. Maybe one day someone will make a television show that will do the DeLorean story justice.

Driven is in theaters and on digital/VOD on August 16.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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