Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell star in this hilarious, non-stop action-packed comedy costarring Bradley Cooper, Kristin Chenoweth and Tom Arnold. A nice guy with a questionable past, Charlie Bronson (Shepard), risks everything when he busts out of a witness protection program to drive his girlfriend (Bell) to Los Angeles for the job opportunity of a lifetime. Their road trip grows awkwardly complicated, however, when they’re chased by an inept fed (Arnold) and Charlie’s ex-pal (Cooper), a vengeance-crazed criminal he helped put behind bars. Hit & Run is a high-speed race to the finish where the brakes are off and the chase is on.
Charles Bronson is alive and well and living in Nowheresville, California. No, not the '70s action hero; this Charles Bronson is a former bank robber wheelman who ratted out his gang and is living under the assumed name in the Federal Witness Protection Program. He goes by Charlie, and played by the goofy, buffed-out Dax Shepard he makes a charming everyman hero in the amusing and adventurous action comedy Hit & Run
. Shepard also wrote the script and codirected what was obviously a labor of love (his real-life partner Kristen Bell plays his onscreen girlfriend), and he shows some genuine chops as a wrangler of rapid-fire witty dialogue as well as car-chase action choreography. Charlie's brainy girlfriend Annie teaches at the local college and knows nothing about his past life, which belies an odd lack of curiosity. But no matter, they seem like the happiest couple on earth, and their scenes together crackle with a witty and realistic edge that shows true chemistry from their real-life relationship. When Annie needs to get to Los Angeles for an important job interview, Charlie uncovers the muscle car he's been hiding in the barn and offers to get her there in a flash, even though it may mean uncovering his secret life in the process. Oh boy, does it ever. Not only does Annie get all the dirty details of his past as a bank robber, so does the angry gang he fingered. Thus begins a road race that has elements of Smokey and the Bandit
, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
, and The Hangover
. Bradley Cooper pulls a broad turn against type as a dreadlocked gangster who used to be Charlie's best friend, before their last job went bad and someone got killed (hence Charlie's dime-dropping testimony). Chasing Charlie becomes the bad guys' obsession and the bulk of the movie becomes a road race toward several moments of truth. There's a wry, free-form tone in the script that feels like it involved a lot of improv in the quick comic banter. That's countered by some remarkable stunt work in the fast and furious car chases (starring an array of beautiful, fetishized racing machines). In addition to Shepard, Bell, and Cooper, the cast includes Tom Arnold as the dimwitted US Marshal assigned to look after Charlie, and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville
's Lex Luthor) as Annie's suspiciously uptight ex-boyfriend. They both add considerable dramedic and automotive weight to the cleverly contrived plot. Several extended cameos from Beau Bridges, Kristin Chenoweth, and David Koechner enliven the comedy while also advancing the narrative in this unusually refreshing combination of freestyle comedy and action. --Ted Fry