Some action thrillers try to get by solely on slickness. They seem to think that if they have enough shoot-outs, drugs and fight scenes, then it means they don’t need to worry too much about the other things that make up a film. Like three-dimensional characters, for instance. Or a decent plot. This is a trap Hard Rush falls into – it tries to live up to the ‘slick action film’ stereotype with its guns, gangsters and corrupt cops, but it ends up sacrificing any real substance in the process.
The film opens with a scene that feels like a budget version of something out of Snatch or Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, with Vinnie Jones looking scary and making threats while the main character’s voice-over narration explains that it wasn’t meant to turn out this way. The rest of the film carries on in much the same vein; the action revolves around the drug scene in LA and the troubled dreams of Frank (Daniel Bonjour), a cocaine-dealing strip-club owner who’s torn between a life of crime and an urge to settle down and go straight.
It’s all a bit ridiculous, and there’s nothing that really feels new or different about the film – you end up feeling as though you’re watching a kind of Frankenstein’s Monster of all the other action thrillers out there that are set against the back-drop of the LA drug scene. The result is a film that isn’t at all unwatchable – there are several amusing moments and a few descent action sequences – but one that’s just a bit flat and predictable.
The other major problem with Hard Rush is the characters, all of which – pretty much without exception – come across as two-dimensional stereotypes of the genre; Randy Couture plays the bitter, dirty cop, Dolph Lundgren is the good cop who’s just trying to do what’s right, and Vinnie Jones is in his obligatory ‘hard man’ gangster role. Main character Frank is even more of problem, in that he’s just not at all believable. Daniel Bonjour makes the best of the role but his character’s motives ultimately feel like muddled plot devices and his back-story is unsatisfactory (and not helped at all by the cheesy voice-over narration). His character isn’t as intimidating as either Couture or Jones, either, which leads to some of his actions – casually shooting two people or beating up a police officer, for instance – seem completely unrealistic.
Hard Rush isn’t a complete disaster, but it is a film that feels as though it’s been done before, and done better.