Who is more of a fascinating individual than John DeLorean? The maker of the automobile of the same name is just as well known for that car as being involved in shady drug dealings. Some remember him as a genius in the auto field, but most think of him either for flopping with his company or being put on trial. That intrigue helps fuel the new film Driven, which presents DeLorean as a side character to the life of Jim Hoffman, who befriended and then potentially betrayed him. If that sounds like the set up for a dark flick, you’d be mistaken. This is far more lighthearted than you might initially think, though the seriousness if the matters at hand are never too far from the spotlight.
The movie is a mix of comedy, crime, drama, and thriller. Taking place in San Diego in the early 1980’s, the story follows ex con and current FBI informant Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis), a man caught in the government’s web for smuggling cocaine. Sent to California to bring down the man who supplied the drugs, things take a turn as he comes into contact with his new neighbor, the legendary John DeLorean (Lee Pace). Meeting him at the onset of the rise of his iconic DeLorean Motor Company, Hoffman quickly befriends DeLorean. Hoffman’s wife Ellen (Judy Greer) has no idea about her husband’s shady past at the start, though that changes before long. Initially of no interest to his contact at the FBI Special Agent Benedict Tisa (Corey Stoll), that changes when DeLorean runs into money problems and asks for Hoffman’s help. Nick Hamm directs a script by Colin Bateman, with music by Geronimo Mercado and cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub. Supporting players include Isabel Arraiza, Justin Bartha, Michael Cudlitz, Erin Moriarty, Tara Summers, and more.
This is actually quite a fair amount of fun, due in no small part to the charms of Jason Sudeikis. While playing a more dramatic character than normal, Sudeikis and his comedic timing is still in full evidence. The way he handles chaos here is really enjoyable. Sudeikis makes Jim Hoffman a sympathetic character, which is no small task. Lee Pace is solid too as John DeLorean, though it’s somewhat of a surface level interpretation of the man. Unfortunately, Judy Greer and Corey Stoll are under utilized, which is a shame. Nick Hamm and Colin Bateman lean in towards Hoffman, making him the center of attention, a gambit which does actually pay off.
Though not a true DeLorean film, Driven presents him as a fascinating character, one who still could be owed his own full on biopic. A hybrid work at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in Framing John DeLorean also opted to not just tell his story straight, which is interesting to me. No one has fully cracked his code yet. Here, interestingly enough, the less he’s centralized into the story, the better. DeLorean works best when he’s popping up in Hoffman’s tale. Part of that is just due to Sudeikis being more compelling than Pace, but it also just helps keep the mystery of DeLorean intact.
Driven offers a fun little option for audiences this weekend. Don’t go in expecting to find the definitive work on John DeLorean, but if you want a romp centered on one of his most ridiculous moments, this will certainly do the trick. Mostly, the reason to see this is the performance from Sudeikis, who deserves juicier roles like this more often. He’s more than just a talented comic actor, that’s for sure. Give Driven a shot and you’ll see why…
Be sure to check out Driven, in theaters tomorrow!