Movie News & Reviews

Lee Pace is driving force behind ‘Driven’

Director Nick Hamm uses the DeLorean to go back to the past for a look at a world of greed, creative genius, con men, obsession and wealth with "Driven." The DeLorean is his vehicle, but it is Lee Pace's performance as master car designer John DeLorean that puts the production in high gear.

"Driven" unfolds in the early 1980s with DeLorean looking to make his dream car a reality. The only problem is DeLorean Motor Company is facing massive financial problems because of design and production woes, and DeLorean needs a quick way to get some cash. That's when FBI informant Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis) comes into DeLorean's life.

Under the FBI's guidance, Hoffman suggests a meeting between DeLorean and some shifty people who can help generate fast money through drug trafficking. Getting the parties together takes some time, and the friendship that forms between the two men makes the informant begin to question his place.

Most of Hamm's attention in bringing the script by Colin Bateman to the screen is on the opulence of DeLorean's world. This includes staging lavish parties and constantly delving into how two men from different backgrounds can be driven by money. Because DeLorean lives in the world of those who have it all, his need for more income is powered by his creative need. Hoffman represents those who have no money but long for a richer lifestyle.

All this would have been a mundane look at the world of the rich and infamous if it hadn't been for Pace's performance. In yet another chameleonlike acting move, Pace ("Guardians of the Galaxy") doesn't just deliver the lines but plays DeLorean with deep layers that give the performance amazing textures.

The way Pace enters the room, speaks to the masses or deals with undesirables is played as if DeLorean sees himself as a god among mortals. It's a mixture of aloofness and a fatherly tone.

His work is so good it could have completely overshadowed the rest of the cast, but Sudeikis ("The Last Man on Earth") brings equal power. He finds the right mixture of sleaziness and seriousness to make his con man someone to like and dislike. If his performance had not been at top speed, the role would have just been the spark to ignite the story, but the strong acting job gives the character unexpected life.

Having two strong performances is what keeps "Driven" from following the familiar path of being a cautionary tale for those who reach beyond their limitations. That element is there, but instead of coming across as preachy, Hamm shows even when the stakes are as high as they were for DeLorean, at the heart are those who make bad decisions based on what they believe are the right reasons.

Hamm's story suffers from a need to squeeze events into a more compact package and offers a revisionist view of the major players, tending to make them look more like victims than manipulators. "Driven" is based in fact, but if you want to adhere more closely to the truth, multiple documentaries exist on the subject.

What you get with "Driven" is a version of the DeLorean story that leans more toward the lavish and larcenous, but Pace's first-rate work keeps pulling the focus back to the man at the heart of the tale.

'DRIVEN'

3 stars

Cast: Lee Pace, Jason Sudeikis, Judy Greer, Corey Stoll, Isabel Arraiza.

Director: Nick Hamm.

Rated: R for language, sexual content, drug use, nudity.

Running time: 108 minutes.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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