Movie Magazine International

Hard Rain

USA - 1998

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

Grab your slickers and galoshes, it's 'Hard Rain,' the dark new action-thriller from Paramount Pictures starring water -- so much water you honestly expect to see wrinkly skin at any given moment. With a doomsday beginning, the Sheriff of Huntsburg, Indiana (played by Randy Quaid) opens the film with the line, 'So, are we all gonna die?'

The plot is simple, it involves the robbery of an armored truck during the flood of a small town. The drivers are Tom (played by Christian Slater) and his uncle, Charlie, played by Ed Asner. Tom is disgusted with the job, unhappy with direction his life has -- or has not -- taken.

When they're ambushed by a pack of conniving thieves, Tom suddenly becomes committed to keeping the cash out of criminal hands. The pack is led by Jim, who despite his greedy aspirations, has integrity. Then again, he is being played by Morgan Freeman, so how could it be otherwise? Other members of the gang include a fired high school science teacher, a trigger-happy idiot who doesn't die soon enough and a philosophical type who, on cue, provides inspirational quotes from the bible and when he runs out, turns to Springsteen lyrics.

Did I mention there's water? A lot of it, all the time, it never stops. Director Mikael Solomon (noted for his cinematography work in 'The Abyss') and the entire cast should be commended on sheer patience alone. It is, as the production notes claim, the most active rain ever used in a motion picture. In average rain scenes, they use 1,500 gallons of water per minute; for 'Hard Rain' they used 30,000.

Which means lots of room for fancy stuntwork. The jet ski chase scene in the hallways of a flooded high school is sooo much fun, you keep hoping they'll stretch it out and they do. Later on, when ski boats come crashing through a church, one particular chunk of stained glass with Jesus' face flies directly into the camera, almost 3-D-like. Always room for computer graphics these days.

With the exception of the token girl, Karen (played in earnest by Minnie Driver) nearly every main character in 'Hard Rain' changes dramatically from when we first meet. Mind you, natural disasters and piles of money have been known to bring out the worst and best in people but in some cases, like the Sheriff's, the changes need more motivation to be believable.

As an extra treat, we get Doreen and Henry, played by Betty White and Richard Dysart as the nagging wife/henpecked husband duo who refused to abandon their home to looters and instead take up arms. They provide great comic relief and it's a delight to see White as pure mean and nasty instead of her usual sugary roles.

Leaving the theatre after seeing 'Hard Rain,' two thoughts came immediately to mind: 'Wow, that film took a lot of work' and 'Oh god, I hope it's not raining.'

© 1998 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 1/14/98

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