In 1984, there took place a sensational trial that gripped the world's media, but what was the truth behind the case brought against businessman John DeLorean (Lee Pace), who had left a high-powered position at General Motors to forge ahead with his own company making luxury sports cars? One man might know that better than others, Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis), for it was with him the evidence rested; he was a known drugs dealer who had previously been arrested for trafficking cocaine in a light aircraft, though to get out of a jail sentence he agreed to become an informant for the FBI to rat on former acquaintances. But what did this have to do with DeLorean?
The DeLorean scandal was all over the media in the first half of the eighties as his dream to manufacture his personal design of a sports car fell apart when he simply could not secure enough funds to carry it off to fruition. The question remained, and to an extent remains today, did he then go to criminal lengths to keep his head above water, or was he a victim of entrapment, and it was unfortunate this account of the events was not able to make up its mind either. What this left you with was a quasi-comedic version of the case with a similar tone to the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading, where basically nobody knew what anybody else were doing and all were losers.
If Driven did not descend completely into farce, the impression was that writer Colin Bateman would have wanted to ramp up the absurdities to maintain that tone, yet pulled himself back from indulging his sense of the ridiculous since, as a local of Northern Ireland where the real DeLorean screwed over a lot of people, intentionally or not, he was well aware this was not as funny a story as some would have you believe. Casting Sudeikis would have given the appearance this was a comedy, yet interestingly the screenplay was keen to underline his weaselly personality (the actual person was in Witness Protection, so could not exactly make a formal complaint about his portrayal).
Even from the off, with Hoffman denying all knowledge of crimes he blatantly had a hand in, we do not trust this man, we can tell he is bad news and that translated into the later scenes he shared with DeLorean. On the other hand, the businessman was depicted as charismatic enough, a smooth talker if need be, yet oddly vapid when you got close to him, his beetle-browed, silver fox good looks the perfect disguise for a man who not only got in over his head, but dragged a bunch of others down with him thanks to his inability to see his plans through with any of the keenness he needed. His excuse was that the money men were not able to revitalise the motor vehicle industry thanks to their small mindedness, and if they had given him the funds to do whatever he wanted they would have reaped the benefits.
Driven is not so sure, as it played out as more of a series of either accidental or intentional cons, and the ambiguity there was papered over with the aforementioned cartoonish bits and pieces as Hoffman tries to hook DeLorean up with cocaine dealers to patch up the holes in his finances. Did DeLorean know what he was getting into? Was he lucky that the FBI was so determined to nail him that they skirted so close to entrapment? That his career never recovered should indicate that he was a slippery character, but was never trusted again once his practices were exposed, yet neither did he receive a reckoning that those whose lives were entangled in his dodgy dealings would have wanted him to. Now all he is recalled for by most is the use of the sports car in the Back to the Future movies, and you don't know what Doc Brown did to it, but there must have been a hell of a lot of tinkering involved to get it to even move a few yards without breaking down. Is that a legacy? This film went some way, maybe not enough, to reminding us this was not admirable in the slightest. Music by Geronimo Mercado.