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Screenwriter and novelist Colin Bateman has here scripted a flashy but watchable true-crime thriller in the style of American Made (2017) or Blow (2001).
It’s based on the stranger-than-fiction case of Jim Hoffman, a drug-runner and FBI informant who in the late 70s happened to be a California neighbour of automobile entrepreneur John DeLorean, who at that time was having real trouble selling the sports car he had designed, with its falcon-wing doors and its unreliable engine, coming sluggishly off the production line in a Northern Ireland factory with financial help from the British government. (The car’s sole success was its iconic appearance in Back to the Future.) Desperate for cash, DeLorean accepted a dodgy deal from Hoffman, hoping to ease his cash-flow worries with cocaine profits from Hoffman’s sleazy drug-dealer contacts.
Jason Sudeikis is amusingly cast as the grinningly insecure beta-male Hoffman, in awe of the cool, platinum-blond visionary DeLorean, played by Lee Pace. The movie persuasively suggests that Hoffman is a sociopath and a chancer who set up the deal as a way to be pals with a macho business hero, and persuading the FBI to keep him on their books and out of jail.
For its part, the FBI was greedy for a sting that would not merely net a big cocaine importer but sensationally convict one of the most famous men in America. But it was a blatant entrapment: could it be that DeLorean’s prestige hypnotised everyone?
There are a few cliches here: the sun, the pool parties, the Cessna airplanes bringing in the cocaine, the jukebox bursts on the soundtrack designed to induce a feelgood glow. What keeps the film going is simply the factual chaotic bizarreness of what is happening: an improvised deal on Iran-Contra levels of crookedness. Sudeikis is authentically bland and slippery.
• Driven is released in the UK on 8 November.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Driven review – stranger-than-fiction tale of drugs and DeLoreans | Film