Hard Rain (1998)

Hard Rain (1998)

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They were taking the Laser Quest a little too seriously.
They were taking the Laser Quest a little too seriously.

Twitter Plot Summary: A massive downpour of rain floods a small town, giving a team of thieves opportunity to steal monies!

Five Point Summary:

1. Get out of town folks, water’s a comin’!
2. Obligatory female character/potential love interest: step forward, Minnie Driver.
3. A twist! That comes as a surprise.
4. Oh no! Not the church!
5. A fight to the end. Mmm.

First of all, let me say that this is an inherently silly idea for a film, a small town that is flooded by a combination of heavy rain and damage to the nearby dam. The opening of the film makes sense, just enough water to cause a nuisance. Yes, I can see that releasing water from the dam would result in higher water levels, but even despite all of that, by the end of the film we’re left in a town that’s hidden underwater – surely that water would have dissipated and moved elsewhere by then? My basic lack of understanding regarding how floods work aside, for a bigger budget B movie, however, it’s not that bad at all.

Christian Slater is Tom, an armoured truck guard who is attacked by Morgan Freeman and his small group of thieves. Tom makes away with the money and hides it, and is chased by the thieves from that point forward. Meanwhile the sheriff and his men are emptying the town of residents and step in to recover the money and stop Tom from being blown away. At the same time an old couple are refusing to leave their home, and a woman named Karen is intent on making sure her church doesn’t end up six feet under…water.

One aspect I rather liked was the about turn the story takes at the halfway point. We’re lef to believe that it’s heading in one direction and then suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you and it’s actually about something else. Whilst not an entirely surprising move and doesn’t make a whole heap of sense, it does at least set it apart from other similar attempts at natural disaster movies. I’m also thankful for the writer not jumping down the obligatory love interest route. Yes, there is a connection evident between Tom and Minnie Driver’s Karen, but it’s not played out and dwelled over in as much detail as you might ordinarily expect. This is also a good thing.

She wasn't impressed by his elephant impression.
She wasn’t impressed by his elephant impression.

Then there’s cowboy hat-wearing Morgan Freeman, the main man with a thieving plan and a much more complex character than you initially assume. His main focus is, of course, the money, but there is still more to him than that. Meanwhile within the sheriff’s department there’s nice interplay between long time sheriff Randy Quaid, his second in command and the rookie, all of whom are reasonably well fleshed out and have a contribution to make to the story. Less so in terms of Karen, who could be written out entirely and it wouldn’t effect the story much. She’s there for female representation though, and in that regard Minnie Driver puts in a good performance. The American accent, not so much, admittedly.

The direction is worthy of note, although this is mostly for its use of Dutch angles, used in this instance to emphasise characters that are, for want of a better term, out of their depth. The action sequences too are something we’ve not seen too often before, and a shootout taking place in 5-6 feet of water is a remarkable sight, although perhaps not one worth repeating.

As I said at the start of the review, it’s an inherently silly idea, but everyone involved seems to acknowledge that fact. This is an effective level of damage control and results in a far better film than you may initially expect. The presence of a big name like Morgan Freeman helps immensely, and there are strong performances from everyone else. Silly it may be, but it at least does something different with the genre.

Score: 3/5

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