Lensed in 1996 as "The Flood," this effort by the writer and three of the producers of "Speed" was retitled and reportedly retooled to nudge it away from the disaster genre toward the realm of a suspenser "that just happens to be set" during a natural calamity.On paper, the idea of an armored-truck robbery pulled during a raging storm, even if far-fetched, might have seemed sufficiently ripe with offbeat promise to be worth a try. Onscreen, however, everything is so murky and messy, both dramatically and logistically, that one can scarcely believe the characters can maneuver and find one another, or even that the remote promise of a $ 3 million payoff is enough to keep these bedraggled losers from giving up and just evacuating the town, as anyone with any sense has long since done.It doesn't help that none of the characters engages a rooting interest. Smart-mouthed Tom (co-producer Christian Slater) is helping his uncle Charlie (Ed Asner), a veteran armored-truck driver, make a final pickup before the bank is flooded by the water cascading down upon Huntingburg, Ind., both from above and from an aging nearby dam that is rapidly breaking up.When Charlie's truck gets stuck in the muck, he and Tom are ambushed by seasoned criminal Jim (Morgan Freeman), who leads a ragtag gang of four in the hopes of making a final score that will enable him to retire for good. Charlie gets shot, but Tom manages to hide the moneybags and escape, eluding the only-in-the-movies pursuit by Jim's goons on board jet-skis through the half-flooded hallways of the local high school.Landing in jail as a suspected looter, Tom is rescued from drowning in his cell by the feisty Karen (Minnie Driver), who oh-so-believably is braving the tempest to try to salvage work she's spent months restoring in the local church. They bond while playing hide-and-seek with Jim, but just when the latter gets the drop on Tom and convinces him to reveal where the money is, the seemingly decent local sheriff (Randy Quaid) turns the tables on everyone by going after the loot himself and threatening to knock off all who stand in his way.The formerly antagonistic Tom and Jim are thus thrust together to ward off the suddenly demented sheriff and his hired guns, a battle that culminates in the flooded church. In a scene painfully reminiscent of one of the less memorable moments in Paramount's equally soaked "Titanic," a handcuffed Karen is in imminent danger of drowning as the water level rises when Tom arrives to return the favor of her having saved his life earlier on.Virtually nothing that takes place here is believable for a moment, beginning with the idea that all these people would expend all their energies trying to shoot one another when they are so imperiled to begin with. Great majority of the story is set at night , which notably obscures the action, and one's concern is extended much more to the misery the actors must have experienced during such a cold, wet shoot than to the cardboard characters they play.Freeman brings intelligence to his hard-luck character that is entirely at odds with the role as written, since Jim has saddled himself with such stooges for partners that any enterprise he undertakes would automatically be doomed to failure. Slater makes for a bland action hero, while Quaid and Driver are scarcely asked to test their talents.A certified old salt thanks to his stint lensing "The Abyss," Mikael Salomon, in his second directorial outing, is straight-jacketed by Graham Yost's formulaic script and the overwhelming logistics involved here. Much of the action was shot in an enormous airplane hangar, one in which B-1 bombers were made, in Palmdale, Calif., and gobs of special effects have been laid on in ways that will keep savvy viewers guessing what's real and what's not. Pic is technically adept, although Christopher Young's score pounds away as mercilessly as the rain.

Lensed in 1996 as “The Flood,” this effort by the writer and three of the producers of “Speed” was retitled and reportedly retooled to nudge it away from the disaster genre toward the realm of a suspenser “that just happens to be set” during a natural calamity.On paper, the idea of an armored-truck robbery pulled during a raging storm, even if far-fetched, might have seemed sufficiently ripe with offbeat promise to be worth a try. Onscreen, however, everything is so murky and messy, both dramatically and logistically, that one can scarcely believe the characters can maneuver and find one another, or even that the remote promise of a $ 3 million payoff is enough to keep these bedraggled losers from giving up and just evacuating the town, as anyone with any sense has long since done.It doesn’t help that none of the characters engages a rooting interest. Smart-mouthed Tom (co-producer Christian Slater) is helping his uncle Charlie (Ed Asner), a veteran armored-truck driver, make a final pickup before the bank is flooded by the water cascading down upon Huntingburg, Ind., both from above and from an aging nearby dam that is rapidly breaking up.When Charlie’s truck gets stuck in the muck, he and Tom are ambushed by seasoned criminal Jim (Morgan Freeman), who leads a ragtag gang of four in the hopes of making a final score that will enable him to retire for good. Charlie gets shot, but Tom manages to hide the moneybags and escape, eluding the only-in-the-movies pursuit by Jim’s goons on board jet-skis through the half-flooded hallways of the local high school.Landing in jail as a suspected looter, Tom is rescued from drowning in his cell by the feisty Karen (Minnie Driver), who oh-so-believably is braving the tempest to try to salvage work she’s spent months restoring in the local church. They bond while playing hide-and-seek with Jim, but just when the latter gets the drop on Tom and convinces him to reveal where the money is, the seemingly decent local sheriff (Randy Quaid) turns the tables on everyone by going after the loot himself and threatening to knock off all who stand in his way.The formerly antagonistic Tom and Jim are thus thrust together to ward off the suddenly demented sheriff and his hired guns, a battle that culminates in the flooded church. In a scene painfully reminiscent of one of the less memorable moments in Paramount’s equally soaked “Titanic,” a handcuffed Karen is in imminent danger of drowning as the water level rises when Tom arrives to return the favor of her having saved his life earlier on.Virtually nothing that takes place here is believable for a moment, beginning with the idea that all these people would expend all their energies trying to shoot one another when they are so imperiled to begin with. Great majority of the story is set at night , which notably obscures the action, and one’s concern is extended much more to the misery the actors must have experienced during such a cold, wet shoot than to the cardboard characters they play.Freeman brings intelligence to his hard-luck character that is entirely at odds with the role as written, since Jim has saddled himself with such stooges for partners that any enterprise he undertakes would automatically be doomed to failure. Slater makes for a bland action hero, while Quaid and Driver are scarcely asked to test their talents.A certified old salt thanks to his stint lensing “The Abyss,” Mikael Salomon, in his second directorial outing, is straight-jacketed by Graham Yost’s formulaic script and the overwhelming logistics involved here. Much of the action was shot in an enormous airplane hangar, one in which B-1 bombers were made, in Palmdale, Calif., and gobs of special effects have been laid on in ways that will keep savvy viewers guessing what’s real and what’s not. Pic is technically adept, although Christopher Young’s score pounds away as mercilessly as the rain.

Hard Rain - 'Rain' Bogged Down by Leaky Storyline

Production

A Paramount release presented in association with Mutual Film Co. Produced by Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn, Ian Bryce. Executive producer, Allison Lyon Segan. Co-producer, Christian Slater.Directed by Mikael Salomon. Screenplay, Graham Yost.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Peter Menzies Jr.; editor, Paul Hirsch; music, Christopher Young; production design, J. Michael Riva; supervising art director, David Klassen; art direction, Richard Mays; set design , Charisse Cardenas, Al Hobbs, Hugo Santiago; sound (Dolby digital/DTS), Lee Orloff; visual effects supervisor, Ed Jones; special effects supervisor, John Frazier; special effects coordinator, Jim Schwalm; visual effects, Cinesite, 4 ward; assistant director, Matt Earl Beesley; second unit director/camera, Ken Arlidge; casting, Risa Bramon Garcia, Randi Hiller. Reviewed at Paramount Studios, L.A., Jan. 5, 1998. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Jim ..... Morgan FreemanTom ..... Christian SlaterSheriff ..... Randy QuaidKaren ..... Minnie DriverCharlie ..... Ed AsnerHenry ..... Richard DysartDoreen ..... Betty WhiteWayne ..... Mark RolstonPhil ..... Peter MurnikKenny ..... Michael GoorjianMr. Mehlor ..... Dann FlorekRay ..... Ricky HarrisHank ..... Wayne DuvallHard Rain" is a waterlogged would-be thriller deep-sixed by its misguided notion of high concept. A cat-and-mouse tale centered on a botched heist during a humongous flood in a Midwestern town, this very dark and wet picture is filled with furious action that seems to unfold in slow motion due to the simple fact that people and things move with exceedingly retarded speed in deep water. An effective campaign and the promise of unusual thrills should produce a solid opening, but lack of credible dramatic ballast will cause it to sink quite quickly.

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