Dax Shepard scored the most phenomenal of achievements with his screenplay for Hit and Run: he captured how real couples converse. The dialogue uttered by Shepard’s Charlie Bronson and his girlfriend Annie (played by Shepard’s real-life fiance Kristen Bell) in the film is uncanny.
Our review comes easy because as a viewer, you get lost in the scenes where it’s just the two of them either basking in their love, encouraging each other's dreams or even fighting over Bronson’s past that suddenly rears its head as the crux of the action swings into gear in Hit and Run.
Bronson is in the witness protection program. Annie believes that he witnessed a bank robbery and put the bad guys away and thus, he’s got an assumed name and lives in a small town that doesn’t offer him much in the way of career opportunity. Tom Arnold scores with his best work (don’t sneer) as the U.S. Marshall assigned to protect him. In fact, Arnold’s character may have one of the better introductions we’ve seen this year.
Bronson’s former colleagues (led by a dreadlocked and commanding Bradley Cooper) discover where he is and now the truth must come out. Charlie wasn’t a witness to a bank robbery -- he was the getaway driver in a series of robberies. When the gang got caught, he sang like a canary and put the entire team away.
While Charlie was off in Witness Protection falling in love, the crew is released on a technicality and somehow (we won’t give it away!), they discover where he has been living. As the walls to Charlie’s life begin to crumble by the arrival of his old life, he grabs Annie and they head out in his suped-up badass car on the road away from trouble. As often happens, trouble follows... but Charlie is an outstanding driver and these two may just have a shot at getting away.
As showcased in the Hit and Run red band trailer, this is a chase movie. The film is also a thriller and romantic comedy. Shepard has written a script that is a joy not only in its capturing of couplehood, but also in the action sequences that crescendo through to the end. As co-director (with David Palmer), Shepard also illustrates his keen ability to sense where the beats of his film are about to change and unlike some other newbie directors, he knows to get out of the way and let his story do its thing.
The key to the success of Hit and Run, in the end, is simple: The chemistry between Bell and Shepard. The two pop off the screen and that is not always a guarantee. Many real-life couples fail to ignite even the smallest of sparks onscreen. Not so with these two. In our Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard exclusive interview, the duo told us that they model themselves after Burt Reynolds and Sally Field and their successful film run. They also dished that they’re remaking Overboard, also featuring a great film pair that clicked onscreen: Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.
With their debut in Hit and Run, we hope that in the future, Bell and Shepard have the movie success of Field and Reynolds with the off-screen success of Russell and Hawn.