‘Driven’ (2018) Movie Review: A Pragmatic Love Letter to John DeLorean

You probably know the DeLorean car because of the pop culture Back to the Future. Maybe you didn’t know that once upon a time the DeLorean was a real car. John DeLorean was a real person who wanted his cars to be the next Ford, the next Ferrari, and even the next Toyota. Everyone needed a DeLorean. Except, no one really wanted one. Despite being solidified in movie history in 1985, the car itself was kaput by 1983.

The Plot

2018’s Driven is not an autobiography about the car itself or John DeLorean’s life. Instead, it is about a specific event in DeLorean’s life where he befriended a former drug dealer and FBI informant. This friendship would lead to DeLorean making the desperate attempt to save his company by participating in a drug deal that led to his arrest. DeLorean was later found not guilty, as a lot of it was conducted as entrapment.

Driven stars Lee Pace as the businessman and constant dreamer, John DeLorean. Jason Sudeikis plays FBI informant Jiff Hoffman, who is still in witness protection to this day. The two strummed up a convenient friendship. When it seemed like the DeLorean would not succeed, John went to Jim for help, knowing what Jim used to do and knowing it would involve a lot of cocaine. To John, it was worth it; if this little deal could help his company, he would do it. He wanted a legacy. His name and car to be remembered.

Corey Stoll stars as FBI agent Benedict Tisa and Michael Cudiltz plays eccentric drug dealer Morgan Hetrick. The supporting cast is good. Stoll plays a no-nonsense agent, who still wants to land a huge bust and is willing himself to do whatever it takes to get there. Cudiltz was enjoyable and dangerous and Erin Moriarty was a lot of fun.

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Sudeikis and Pace’s Chemistry

The film is all about Hoffman and DeLorean. At times, more about Hoffman. The beginning of the film struggles a little to find its footing. Sudeikis plays Jim a little strangely at first, for some reason, everything starts flowing better in the second half of the movie. Lee Pace as DeLorean is a bit like a caricature and almost sticks out like a sore thumb. Again, though; somehow everything starts flowing better later in the movie.

Pace does play DeLorean a bit like he played Joe MacMillan in AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. DeLorean is a businessman. He’s a salesman and he’s a dreamer. He has an idea that he thinks puts him on the top, but in reality, it’s a huge failure. He can’t keep up with his farce and this once charismatic ideologist ends up seeming like a washed-up prodigy. Much like Joe MacMillan, most of the stories he tells are fake. A means of trying to paint himself as something else and only Hoffman is really able to see that.

Who was John DeLorean?

Still, the movie is a bit like a love letter to DeLorean. Despite seeing DeLorean in a negative light, there’s something admirable about him. He’s larger than life. And there’s something about watching someone who really just wanted to dream and that dream never getting off the ground. It’s relatable. DeLorean is made to be iconic in this film, at least through Hoffman’s eyes. Despite Hoffman offering DeLorean up like a silver platter to Tisa in exchange for his family’s safety, he ends up trying to protect DeLorean all throughout the drug deal. Even while in court. There was something beautiful about it.

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Rating: 3.5/5

Driven is not a Wolf of Wall Street and it certainly took a while to pick up. There is never truly a moment where shit hits the fan, as it is trying to go through a lot in a short period of time. For some unexplainable reason, though; I found myself invested at the halfway point of the movie. It made me want to know more about this man who designed a car that people will only ever really know as the car from Back to the Future. In a way, it doesn’t even seem real. Can you imagine people all driving around a DeLorean? That’s what John wanted and in fact, there are still some on the road to this day.

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