You know there's something fundamentally wrong with Drive Hard less than five seconds in: It opens on a shot of star Thomas Jane sporting an absurd mop of a hairdo that might have been borrowed from a Raggedy Ann doll.

A sloppy, ill-conceived, cheezy B-film masquerading as a high-turbo road movie, it stars Jane as Peter Roberts, a former race-car driver roped into taking the wheel of a getaway car for hard-nosed criminal and ex-con Simon Keller (John Cusack).

Set on the beaches, highways, and byways of Gold Coast, a gorgeous city on Australia's southeastern shore, Drive Hard opens on a typical morning in Peter's - very boring - life. Having given up the sexy, dangerous excitement of the blacktop to settle down with his nagging wife and young daughter, Peter barely makes ends meet as a driving-school instructor.

Enter Simon.

Looking like a refugee from the 1980s, Simon is a carbon copy of Cusack's memorable character in Grosse Pointe Black, except that his costume - it's supposed to be black and sleek and slick - suggests Salvation Army rack.

Cusack makes things worse by wearing a baseball cap that hides half his face, and smoking an electronic cigarette jammed into a long, Hunter S. Thompson-esque cigarette holder.

Simon pretends to be interested in driving lessons and goes out with Peter on a test drive. The lackadaisical Peter, sleepwalking through his life, is nonplussed when his student bursts out of the car and into a nearby bank and back into the car holding $9 million in bearer bonds.

So begins the buddy-movie portion of the proceedings as our ostensibly hilarious odd couple bicker, banter, and bond through the countryside.

Drive Hard piles on the formulaic plot points and stock characters, even adding a mob subplot. See, the bank Simon knocked over is owned by an organized-crime syndicate that once employed the crack safecracker.

Add a gaggle of corrupt cops on the bank payroll and a pair of incorruptible, if brainless, federal agents, and you get the picture.

But please don't get the picture. It just ain't worth it.

Drive Hard * (out of four stars)

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith. With Thomas Jane, John Cusack,

Zoe Ventoura, Christopher Morris, Yesse Spence. Distributed by

Image Entertainment.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 mins.

Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (violence, profanity).

Playing at: AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24.

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