[Screen It]


(1998) (Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Minor Moderate Heavy Heavy Extreme
Mild Minor Heavy None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor None None Mild Extreme

Action/Adventure: During a massive flood, an armored car guard must battle a team of robbers as well as a corrupt sheriff and his men who are all after three million dollars in cash.
Tom (CHRISTIAN SLATER) and his uncle Charlie (ED ASNER) are armored car guards who find their armored car stuck in the rising waters of a massive river flood in Huntingburg, Indiana. Calling for help on the radio, they're ambushed by Jim (MORGAN FREEMAN) and his crew of robbers who inadvertently open fire on them, killing Charlie. Tom races away with the three million dollars in cash, stashes it in a flooded cemetery and then tries to hide in the local church.

There, Karen (MINNIE DRIVER), a restoration artist, thinks he's a looter and knocks him out. She delivers him to the local sheriff (RANDY QUAID), who's recently lost his reelection bid, and he and his deputies go looking for the money. Little do they know that Jim and his men are also hunting for the money and soon the two parties battle each other for it. Meanwhile Karen rescues Tom from a flooding jail cell and the two then try to stop the sets of bad guys while also dealing with the continually rising flood waters.

If they're fans of anyone in the cast or of disaster/action movies, they just might. Preteens will probably have little or no interest in seeing this picture.
For violence.
  • CHRISTIAN SLATER plays an armored car guard who must battle two sets of bad guys and a flood while trying to protect the money.
  • MORGAN FREEMAN plays a thief who tries to steal the money and threatens Tom several times regarding that.
  • RANDY QUAID plays the bitter local sheriff who goes bad and decides he wants to steal the money.
  • MINNIE DRIVER plays a restoration artist who helps Tom with no discernable bad traits.


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    Ah, the disaster movie. Long a staple of films during the 1970's, audiences were delighted (or deluged depending on how you saw it) with crashing planes, massive earthquakes, turned upside down cruise ships, approaching meteors, burning high-rises, attacking killer bees, and our personal favorite: dangerous amusement park rides (1977's "Rollercoaster" in Sensurround no less -- if you're too young to remember that bone shattering bass accompaniment, you're probably better off).

    Long after disaster producer Irwin Allen made his last film, disaster movies returned with a vengeance in the last few years. From twisters to volcanoes and the recently included forest fires ("Firestorm"), mother nature has made a comeback. Although moviegoers can easily identify with most of the mass destruction (after growing accustomed to seeing all of it on TV news), not all of the films are successful. For the most part, however, they at least partially work in that they play off our survival instincts that want to keep us away from crashing in airplanes, burning up in fires, or drowning in water (and of course, staying away from dangerous amusement park rides).

    Many films have used the near drowning scenes to great success, among them "The Abyss" and the current favorite, "Titanic." So now we have "The Flood." Oops, that was the title this film originally held when it was to be released last spring. The film makers, sensing that disaster movies may have been on their way out, decided to pull it from release. Reportedly retooling some of it, they renamed the picture "Hard Rain." Redirecting the thrust behind the movie into a suspenseful adventure yarn with a flood just so happening to occur in the background, the crew behind the camera hoped to make people think it was anything but an Irwin Allen wannabe.

    Unfortunately, it's still a disaster movie not only in the sense that mother nature's at her destructive best/worst once again, but also because that adjective is a good description of this picture. Most of that can be attributed to the flood waters that appear not only to have washed away much of the set, but also any character development, most of the suspense, and a great deal of logic. Hopefully Paramount bought flood insurance before they made this film because they're going to get soaked with this one.

    In all honesty, it's not excruciatingly horrible and one can easily sit through it -- as long as you don't try to think about what's happening. Nearly all of the special effects are done quite well and I'm sure most of the cast looked like prunes once the shooting schedule was done. There are a few decent scenes where various cast members are trapped and the water's rising around them that should somewhat thrill audiences. And "Golden Girl" Betty White plays against type and delivers most of the film's much needed comic relief. Inhabiting the persona of a nagging, rifle toting older woman who's set booby traps for potential looters, her constant, irritating behavior eventually leads to the film's funniest moment (a line of dialogue) where her husband has finally had enough of her ranting. Alas, both types of moments are few and far in between, thus leaving the movie to turn into a big gun battle that not only grows repetitive, but exceedingly boring.

    The greatest fault of the film (of many from which to chose), is the fact that director Mikael Salomon (a former cinematographer who literally got his feet wet for this type of film while shooting "The Abyss") and writer Graham Yost ("Speed," "Broken Arrow," and an uncredited stint on "Firestorm") left out any character or real story development. With this film what you see is what you get, and that doesn't mean much for these characters. We never know why Tom (Slater) is so loyal to the money (in fact, he complains early on about the job). While his dedication is admirable, it doesn't make any sense considering that both the "good" and bad guys are trying to kill him and, oh yeah, a massive flood is engulfing the town.

    Nor do we know much about Morgan Freeman's thief character, or about the sheriff (Quaid) other than he's upset that he wasn't reelected. Without knowing anything about these people, we don't have any personal involvement in their fate or the film's outcome. They're strangers to us, and we watch them much like you would people on the TV news seen in a flood (actually with even less interest). Other than Quaid chewing up some scenery playing the bad guy, none of the performers seem particularly enthralled with playing their characters. Their only mission is to wade through the water and occasionally shoot at each other (and hope for a dry spot somewhere on the set).

    Of course I don't know if you'd want to know these characters, for their actions are stupid and/or illogical enough to make characters in a horror slasher film look like Rhodes scholars. First of all, there's a flood quickly rising all about them. Sure, three million dollars is a lot of money, but c'mon. The only thing you'll end up thinking about these people is that they'll get what's coming to them, not just because most of them are criminals, but because they're just plain stupid.

    Minnie Driver (who's been such a delight in many other films) plays a woman who will risk her life not to save her grandmother, or the helpless, stranded kitten, but for some stained glass windows she's restoring. Morgan Freeman (who's nearly wasted in this role) has surrounded himself with a bunch of morons and buffoons who probably couldn't even get the money out of a piggy bank with a hammer, let alone pull off an armored car heist. That's okay in a comedy, but that's not the genre this film's aiming for -- at least not intentionally.

    It just goes on and on. Slater's character Tom, upon seeing the bad guys approaching in boats, decides not to remain hiding in a cemetery, but instead opts to wade through waist deep water -- out in the open -- and heads toward a light pole where he'll obviously be seen. He does that, of course, so that the bad guys can chase him into and through a flooded high school on jet skis. While I have to admit that's something you don't see every day in the movies, it unfortunately leads to a Schwarzenegger-type line of dialogue. After a bad guy crashes his jet ski and slams into a wall, Slater says, "Low tide, sailor." Fortunately, those one-liners begin and end with that howler.

    Although the film's premise seems interesting, the execution is flat. Focusing more attention on how the flood looks then on the characters or a good story, the film makers have created a boring film that could have -- and should have -- been much better. With the truly suspenseful scenes being quite rare, even the predictable breaking of the dam and the resulting tidal wave of water that hits the town is less than thrilling. Now if they'd only thought about changing the story to include a flood rising up and around an amusement park filled with dangerous rides -- and if they would have presented it in Sensurround -- then that would have been a completely different matter. Oh well. As it stands, we give "Hard Rain" a 3 out of 10.

    Violence gives this movie its R rating, and there's enough gunfire in it to make one think it's a war movie and not a disaster flick. Several people are killed in various ways, and some of the deaths are bloody. Profanity includes 1"f" and more than 20 "s" words (along with an assortment of others), and all of the bad guys obviously have bad attitudes as they not only try to steal the money, but also kill Tom and Karen while doing so. Beyond a few suspenseful, near-drowning sequences, there's little else to object to. While few preteens will want to see this film, some younger teenagers (as well as older ones) just might. Thus, you should probably look through the content listings to determine if this film would be appropriate for anyone in your home.

  • Jim and his men drink beer and shots in a bar.
  • Charlie's a little bloody (as is Tom's hand) after he's been shot.
  • Tom holds a slightly bloody towel to a minor head wound.
  • A man who's been shot falls into the water and blood flows from his mouth.
  • Blood flows from a man's eye after he's been shot in the face.
  • Tom has a bloody scrape on his arm after a bullet's grazed him.
  • One of the bad guy's hands is bloody as is his face.
  • Obviously Jim and his crew have both (trying to steal money, trying to kill Tom and Karen, stealing a boat, etc...), as does the Sheriff and his deputies (trying to steal the money and kill Tom and Karen).
  • Many scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense to some viewers.
  • There are many chase sequences throughout the film where the bad guys (in the form of Jim and his men or the Sheriff and his) chase after Tom and/or Karen who must flee and/or hide underwater from them.
  • There's a long scene where Tom finds himself locked in a jail cell as the flood waters quickly rise around him and he desperately tries to get out.
  • Tom and Karen have to get out of the water before it reaches an electric transformer. Then a bad guy fights with Tom in the water as it gets closer and closer to the transformer.
  • Jim and his men hold their guns on Tom to make him say where he hid the money.
  • There's a long standoff where Tom and Jim and trapped in a church while the sheriff and his men try to get at them.
  • A deputy prepares to rape Karen after he's handcuffed her to the banister in her house. She kills him, but then finds the water suddenly rising around her. A long sequence follows where she and then Tom try to free her as the waters continue to rise.
  • A huge wall of water races through the town.
  • Handguns/Rifles/Shotguns: Used in many gun battles throughout the film. See "Violence" for details.
  • Explosives: Used in several scenes to blow up things.
  • Molotov Cocktails: Used by the sheriff and his men to set a church on fire.
  • Screwdriver: Used to stab someone in the back of the neck.
  • Phrases: "Freakin'," "Bastard," "Screwed," "Screw it up," and "Screw" (nonsexual), "Shut up," "Shut the "f" up," "Dope" (stupid), "Jerk," "Jackass," "Old Fart," "Geez," "Loser," "Low life scumbag," "Pissing me off," and "Wuss."
  • Bitter that his boss lost his reelection bid, a deputy says that they should torch the mayor's house and blame it on looters.
  • Tom and Karen stay inside a mostly submerged car and calmly talk while it floats down the road.
  • A man's bloody hand suddenly grabs the side of a boat.
  • The movie is filled with a heavy amount of suspense-oriented music throughout most of the production.
  • None.
  • At least 1 "f" word, 21 "s" words, 19 hells, 9 damns, 7 S.O.B.'s, 6 asses (1 using "hole"), and 7 uses of "G-damn," 5 of "Jesus," 3 of "Oh God," 2 of "Jesus Christ," and 1 each of "Oh Jesus" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • One deputy says about the other's supportive comment to Karen, "That's good Phil, maybe it will finally get you inside her pants."
  • We see just a brief glimpse of the bottom of a man's bare butt when he races out of the bathroom with his pants around his ankles.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Dealing with floods (ie. Not crossing flood-covered streets, etc...).
  • Jim and his men open fire on Tom and Charlie who return the fire. After many shots, we see that Charlie has been hit and dies.
  • One of Jim's crew shoots through a store front window to get to a boat.
  • Jim's crew uses explosives to blow open a locked school door.
  • A man's jet ski crashes and flings him against a wall.
  • Jim's men shoot at Tom while he's on a jet ski.
  • A jet ski crashes into a tree and explodes.
  • Karen, thinking Tom is a looter, hits him on the head and knocks him unconscious.
  • Tom and a bad guy fight in the flood waters.
  • A man is electrocuted, catches on fire, and later dies.
  • The sheriff and his men open fire on Jim and his crew who return gunfire at them. Eventually Tom joins in and all of them fire many shots. Several people are killed during this exchange.
  • The sheriff hits Karen and knocks her unconscious.
  • A man handcuffs and prepares to rape Karen, but she stabs him in the back, killing him.
  • Lots of gunfire is exchanged inside the flooded church.
  • Tom slugs a bad guy in the face.
  • A man is shot.
  • A floating gas tank explodes and kills a man.
  • Another man is shot many times and is killed.

  • Reviewed January 12, 1998

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