Brian Trenchard-Smith is back. The director of the best rollicking, ridiculous cinema Australia has ever made – BMX Bandits, Turkey Shoot, Dead End Drive-In, Out of the Body and my favourite, the gonads-smashing The Man From Hong Kong, to name a few. Here BTS makes a welcome return to his Australian-located action-comedy roots with Drive Hard. This time he has brought two Hollywood guys along for the ride: John Cusack and Thomas Jane.

Australia/Canada, 2014, Brian Trenchard-Smith


Thomas Jane plays Peter Roberts, an ex-V8 supercar driver-hunk turned clumsy driving instructor. Roberts dreams of the time when he stood on the podium with a babe in front of a green screen.


Now Roberts has a wife (Yesse Spence) who doesn’t respect him and a daughter who interrupts his dreams. Roberts feels emasculated and his Gold Coast life pales in comparison to the excitement of repeatedly driving around in circles on a racing track.

But the best thing about Roberts is, he’s a bloody goof. Similar to the leads who have appeared throughout BTS’ 70s and 80s work, from John Hargreaves and Grant Page in Deathcheaters to Jason Blade in Day of the Panther and Strike of the Panther, the lineage of likeable idiocy is apparent. Not only does Thomas Jane depict Roberts as a goof, he plays him as Christopher Lambert:


After spilling coffee on his crotch, Roberts meets Simon Keller, played by a smirking, cap-wearing John Cusack. Keller happens to be Roberts’ next appointment and logic fails to register in Roberts’ noggin. He doesn’t question why Keller would want a driving lesson knowing he’s only in Australia for the weekend.


Moments later Keller has stolen 9 million in bearers bonds from an investment bank and Roberts is forced to be his getaway driver. It’s an entertaining opening 30 minutes, in spite of a few cheap-looking moments: the only shots we see of the heist is a close-up of feet madly dashing and Cusack cracking a safe that looks like a safe your grandpa has hidden behind a hanging wall rug. The rug he bought from South Africa when he holidayed there, and he brought you back a Perth T-shirt, for some bloody reason… I digress.

What unfolds is a back-and-forth buddying-up between Roberts and Keller as they flee from corrupt cops, some good cops, and “bank assassins”. The chase commencing across Queensland’s countryside. Along the way Keller helps Roberts with his wife troubles and Roberts helps Keller with a target for his rubber bullets – his arse. They encounter some rubbish bikers and a gun-toting, cursing granny (Carol Burns), that Roberts hilariously fights and headbutts.


Drive Hard is littered with funny, odd lines like when Roberts says, “That’s right, FBI guys. I’m talking to my wife here about fucking.” John Cusack and Thomas Jane seem to be having fun. I particularly enjoyed witnessing Cusack shoot up Queensland especially after how badly they treated Carl Weathers in his Gold Coast mis-adventure, Hurricane Smith:

BTS cemented his place as the Genre Prince of Australian Cinema long ago, but I’m sure glad he keeps directing projects, especially when they’re Australian-based action-comedies like Drive Hard. Check out the trailer:

Although the Drive Hard title is somewhat misleading – for a good chunk of the film Thomas Jane and John Cusack drive quite leisurely and neither of them are driving with erections, Drive Hard is still an entertaining, amusing B-movie and worth checking out.









Availability: Drive Hard hasn’t been released everywhere yet. But it is available to buy on DVD and blu-ray in the UK and Europe. It will make a fine addition to your Brian Trenchard-Smith Ozploitation collection.