Films That Time Forgot: Hard Rain (1998)

by Helen Cox on 04/04/2013

Hard Rain Image

Multiply a heist film by a disaster flick, divide by Christian Slater (and Morgan Freeman in brackets) and what’s your answer? Hard Rain. When this formula was floated around the office, studio execs would be forgiven for assuming that it would all add up to pots of cash. For reasons that are not entirely clear, however, Hard Rain was a complete box office wash out and in many regions went straight to video.

The narrative follows armoured truck driver Tom (Christian Slater) who is ambushed by by Jim (Morgan Freeman) and his band of robbers during the worst ever recorded rainstorm in the Midwest. In the process Tom’s Uncle Charlie (Edward Asner) is shot dead and he stashes the money to prevent the robbers getting what they came for. Jim’s retirement hinges on this plan, however, leaving him unwilling to jump ship despite the rising water, and tension, levels.

Produced by Mark Gordon and written by Graham Yost, who worked on Speed, Hard Rain has a lot of the same hallmarks as that famous Keanu action-fest. On release Time Out even went so far as to call it a ‘spiritual sequel’ to Gordon and Yost’s previous outing and they weren’t far off.  The villains’ motives are carefully thought through, all major characters, including the female lead who is in this case Minnie Driver, are given agency and every time the good guys think their luck is improving another obstacle is planted in their path. Hard Rain also boasts a slick twist in the third act that really sets it apart from average multiplex action fodder.

Why then does it have a 26% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Why didn’t the praise come flooding in? Difficult to say. This isn’t by any stretch a perfect film, but it does have a lot going for it in the entertainment stakes. It is, sadly, likely to be the British backing that left Hard Rain dead in the water.

This film received funding from a range of sources to secure a release, including the BBC, and is thus categorised as an American/British production. Film criticism isn’t on the whole very kind to, or very interested in, British film that isn’t part of the accepted canon which means that a lot of perfectly decent films sink without a trace. Hard Rain was one such wreck.

Should it resurface on a film channel or a bargain bin near you, dive in. Christian Slater drives a jet ski and everything.

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