Hard Rain (film)

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Hard Rain
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMikael Salomon
Written byGraham Yost
Produced by
CinematographyPeter Menzies Jr.
Edited by
Music byChristopher Young
Distributed by
  • Paramount Pictures (United States)
  • Nordisk Film Biografdistribution (Denmark)[2]
  • PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia)[3][4]
  • Concorde Filmverleih (Germany)[5]
Release dates
  • January 16, 1998 (1998-01-16) (United States)
  • April 3, 1998 (1998-04-03) (United Kingdom)
  • April 6, 1998 (1998-04-06) (Germany)
  • May 29, 1998 (1998-05-29) (Denmark)
  • September 5, 1998 (1998-09-05) (Japan)
Running time
96 minutes[3]
Budget$70 million[6]
Box office$19.9 million (US)[6]

Hard Rain is a 1998 disaster heist action thriller film directed by former cinematographer-turned director Mikael Salomon, written by Graham Yost, produced by Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, and Gary Levinsohn, and starring Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver, and Ed Asner. An international co-production among the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, and Japan, the plot centers around a heist and man-made treachery amidst a natural disaster in a small Indiana town.


During a heavy rainstorm, Tom and his uncle Charlie, two armored truck drivers, are collecting money from banks in the town of Huntingburg, Indiana, which has been evacuated due to flooding. They are ambushed by Jim and his gang of armed robbers, Kenny, Mr. Mehlor, and Ray. Charlie calls the National Guard and is shot dead by Kenny as Tom escapes and hides the cash in a cemetery.

The gang chases Tom, who takes refuge in a nearby church. There he is mistaken for a looter by Karen who knocks him out. Tom wakes up in a cell and tells Sheriff Mike Collig about the gang and the money. Mike and Chief Deputy Wayne Bryce leave him locked up and investigate, whilst Deputy Phil is ordered to take Karen out of town. Karen pushes Phil out of the boat to return to protect the church, which she is restoring.

The town's dam operator Hank is forced to open a spillway, causing a large wave and deeper flooding. Tom is trapped in his cell as the water rises. After protecting the church, Karen rescues him and they hide from the gang. Kenny is electrocuted. They enter a house and are mistaken for looters by the elderly residents Doreen and Henry Sears, who have refused to evacuate and are protecting their property. Henry is persuaded to give Tom their boat to return to the armored truck. Resurfacing from the submerged truck, he finds the gang holding the elderly couple hostage. Tom says he will tell them where the money is.

Jim reveals to Tom that the latter's uncle Charlie was in cahoots with the gang, and did not actually call the National Guard; he was only killed because Kenny was not told Charlie was on their side. Tom finds the money has disappeared. They are ambushed by Mike and his deputies plus Hank, who have found Karen and intend to keep the money for themselves.

Mr. Mehlor and Ray are killed in the shootout, and Jim and Tom escape and hide in the church. Wayne takes Karen to her house intending to rape her. The others gasoline-bomb the church and drive their boats through the stained glass windows. Karen stabs and kills Wayne. Hank shoots Phil for not shooting Tom when he had the chance.

The dam overtop alarm sounds. Mike suggests Tom and Jim should let Hank and him go with a couple of the bags of money. Tom agrees, but Jim does not. Tom leaves to try to save Karen, before Mike shoots Jim with a revolver he was hiding, although Jim isn't badly hurt. Mike and Hank escape in a boat; Hank is then pushed out by the sheriff and is killed in a gas explosion.

Tom finds Karen handcuffed to a banister. He frees her and they climb to the roof to avoid the water where they are caught by Mike. Jim comes from behind them in a boat. Mike shoots at him, disabling the steering, forcing him to go over the roof. As he does so, the engine breaks off and collides with the sheriff, knocking him into the water. Mike tries to shoot Karen as he grabs a bag of money, but Tom and Jim shoot the corrupt sheriff dead. Tom tells Jim he should leave, just as the Indiana State Police arrive. Jim picks up Mike's bag of money and rows away, as Tom tells Karen the fire damage to her church was not too bad and can be repaired.




The production of the film was a collaborative effort among numerous film studios, one of which was the British Broadcasting Corporation. Christian Slater himself served as co-producer.[7] At one point, John Woo was attached to direct the film,[8] but he left the project to direct Face/Off instead and the project was taken over by Mikael Salomon.

The film was originally titled The Flood,[9] but it was changed because the film-makers did not want audiences to assume it was primarily a disaster film and not a heist-thriller.[citation needed] A massive, deadly flood the previous year from the Ohio River that caused millions in damages was still fresh in the minds of moviegoers also prompted the name change. However, the film still retained that title in some other countries.[citation needed]

The film was shot in Huntingburg, Indiana, where the film is set (in reality there is no major river or dam nearby, although there are two reservoirs near the town), as well as a $6 million set in an aircraft hangar in Palmdale, California where the B-1 Lancer bomber was manufactured, and some exteriors in Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada.

As of April 2016, upon speaking with the Huntingburg City Office, film historian Adam Nichols was informed of and shown a museum located upstairs in the city office where several props, costumes, media, and production stills are displayed featuring this film and the 1992 film A League of Their Own that was also partially filmed in Huntingburg.

About the ending, Morgan Freeman said: "I played a bad guy in [Hard Rain] and they showed it to an audience – and we're letting an audience tell us what to do now – y'know, and the audience said, 'Well, I don't want him – Morgan can't die!' And I was a thief. 'He should get some money'. We went back into the studio and re-shot it so that I didn't die and I did get some money."[10]

In retrospect Screenwriter Graham Yost said: “That was just supposed to be a western. It was basically a modern day western and it was just so expensive to do that it kind of lost its focus in a way, although Mikael [Salomon] did a great job.“[11]


Box office[edit]

Hard Rain opened on the Martin Luther King long weekend in 1998 earning fifth place with $7.1 million from Friday to Sunday[12] and $8 million including the holiday Monday.[13] In the end, the film made $19.9 million in the US on a $70 million budget.[14]

Due to its poor box office performance in the US, the film was released straight to video in most countries. In the UK, a 2004 showing on BBC One was very well received.[citation needed] The film gained a significant following in the video rental market.[15]

Critical response[edit]

Hard Rain received polarized reviews, some very positive and some very negative. A positive review was on timeout.com favorably compared the plot of Hard Rain to writer Graham Yost's earlier and more financially successful project, Speed, and suggested that it could be considered a spiritual sequel to Speed.[16] Another review, on starpulse.com, praised the action scenes of Hard Rain yet criticized the plot, calling it "mindless" yet "entertaining".[17] One particularly negative review came from Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who gave the film one star out of a possible four and stated: "Hard Rain is one of those movies that never convince you its stories are really happening. From beginning to end, I was acutely aware of actors being paid to stand in cold water. Suspension of my disbelief in this case would have required psychotropic medications." Although he criticised the plot and some of the casting, he did praise the special effects.[18] On the TV show Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, he and his colleague Gene Siskel gave the film "two thumbs down".[19] Commenting on its commercial performance, Total Film called it the "biggest flop of 1998" but said it deserved to perform better because of its "fun tension-cranking moments".[20] Christopher Young's score was praised.[21]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 31% approval rating based on 45 reviews with an average rating of 4.5/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Hard Rain is an implausible heist movie soaked in disaster movie trappings."[22] On Metacritic, the film holds a weighted average score of 36 out of 100 based on 17 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[23] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Hard Rain". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Hard Rain (1998)". Danish Film Institute. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "HARD RAIN | British Board of Film Classification". Archived from the original on April 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Hard Rain (35mm)". Australian Classification Board. August 30, 2019. Retrieved September 24, 2021.
  5. ^ "Hard Rain". filmportal.de. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Hard Rain". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence. "FILM REVIEW; Outlook: Stormy (It's Raining, Too)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Shaffer, R. L. (February 9, 2010). "Hard Rain Blu-ray Review". IGN. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  9. ^ Collins, Andrew (December 1, 2015). "Hard Rain Review". Empire. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  10. ^ Jobson, Richard (July 14, 2000). "Morgan Freeman". The Guardian. London. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Topel, Fred (February 6, 2014). "Exclusive Interview: Graham Yost on 'Justified' Season 5". Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office Chart for January 16th, 1998". The Numbers.
  13. ^ "Daily Box Office Chart for Monday January 19th, 1998". The Numbers.
  14. ^ "Hard Rain (1998) – Financial Information". The Numbers.
  15. ^ "Top 10 Christian Slater Films". September 21, 2012.
  16. ^ "Hard Rain". Time Out. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012.
  17. ^ "Hard Rain". Starpulse. Archived from the original on February 4, 2005.
  18. ^ Roger Ebert. "Hard Rain movie review & film summary (1998)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  19. ^ "Spice World, Hard Rain, Fallen, The Gingerbread Man, Phantoms, Star Kid, 1998 – Siskel and Ebert Movie Reviews". SiskelEbert. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  20. ^ "The 50 biggest movie flops that deserved better". Total Film. June 11, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  21. ^ "Filmtracks: Hard Rain (Christopher Young)". www.filmtracks.com. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  22. ^ "Hard Rain (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 3, 2023.
  23. ^ "Hard Rain Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  24. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.

External links[edit]