An odd frilm directed by Nick Hamm and written by Colin Bateman and Alejandro Carpio, “Driven” looks at the life of John DeLorian and the scandal in which he became involved. What makes the film different from what one might expect is the light tone applied to very serious events.

In the film set in 1980s California, Lee Pace plays DeLorean, who had established a major reputation at General Motors and subsequently became famous as the independent creator of his DeLorean auto that never became the success that he had hoped it would be. The film follows his becoming bogged down in financial problems and his involvement in a drug dealing sting.

There is the friendship that develops between DeLorean and his neighbor Jim Hoffman, played by Jason Sudeikis, who, caught in his own illegality, becomes an informant for the F.B.I. in a trap that’s set to nab DeLorean. Judy Greer portrays Hoffman’s wife, Ellen, and Isabel Arraiza is Cristina, DeLorean’s fashion model wife. Corey Stoll has a key role as F.B.I agent Benedict Tiso.

There is an element of pathos involved in the situation as depicted. Hoffman doesn’t seem like an evil guy despite his betrayal of a friend and there is regret on his part for what he has to do to save himself. DeLorean, as played by Pace, is shown to be more of a larger-than-life character than a villain. Inspired by real events, the film needs a much more serious bent to do justice to all that happened.

(DeLorean was charged in 1982 with an attempt to sell a huge quantity of cocaine, but in his 1984 trial was acquitted as a result of his having been entrapped. DeLorean died in 2005 at the age of 80.)

This fictionalized drama by Hamm makes for easygoing if not in-depth viewing, with the stars and supporting cast members delivering performances in keeping with the overall approach of mixing comedy with crime and intended suspense. A Variance Films and Universal Pictures Content Group release. Reviewed August 16, 2019.

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