Hard Rain (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mikael Salomon|
|Written by||Graham Yost|
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Cinematography||Peter Menzies Jr.|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
|Box office||$19.9 million (US)|
Hard Rain is a 1998 action-thriller disaster film produced by Mark Gordon, written by Graham Yost, and directed by former cinematographer-turned director Mikael Salomon. It stars Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman, Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver, and Ed Asner. It is an international co-production between 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 armored truck drivers Tom (Christian Slater) and his uncle Charlie (Edward Asner) are collecting money from banks in the town of Huntingburg, Indiana, which has been evacuated due to flooding. They are ambushed by Jim (Morgan Freeman) and his gang of armed robbers, Kenny (Michael Goorjian), Mr. Mehlor (Dann Florek) and Ray (Ricky Harris). 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, where he is mistaken for a looter by Karen (Minnie Driver) who knocks him out. He wakes up in a cell, and tells Sheriff Mike Collins (Randy Quaid) about the gang and the money. The Sheriff and Chief Deputy Wayne Bryce (Mark Rolston) leave him locked up and go to investigate, whilst Deputy Phil (Peter Murnik) 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 (Wayne Duvall) is forced to open a spillway floodgate 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 (Betty White) and Henry Sears (Richard Dysart) who have declined to evacuate and are determined to protect 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 where the money is.
Jim reveals to Tom that 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 Sheriff Collins 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 shoot out, and Jim and Tom escape and hide in the church. Wayne takes Karen to her house intending to rape her. The others petrol bomb the church and drive their boats through the stained glassed windows. Karen stabs and kills Wayne. Hank shoots Phil for not shooting Tom when he had the chance
The dam overtop alarm sounds. Collins 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 Collins shoots Jim with a revolver he was hiding, although Jim isn't badly hurt. Collins and Hank escape in a boat. Hank is pushed out by Collins 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 Collins. Jim comes from behind them in a boat. Collins 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. Collins 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 State Police arrive. Jim picks up Collins' bag of money and rows away, as Tom tells Karen the fire damage to her church wasn't too bad and can be repaired.
- Morgan Freeman as Jim
- Christian Slater as Tom
- Randy Quaid as Sheriff Mike Collins
- Minnie Driver as Karen
- Edward Asner as Uncle Charlie
- Michael Goorjian as Kenny
- Dann Florek as Mr Mehlor
- Ricky Harris as Ray
- Mark Rolston as Chief Deputy Wayne Bryce
- Peter Murnik as Phil
- Wayne Duvall as Hank
- Richard Dysart as Henry Sears
- Betty White as Doreen Sears
The production of the film was a collaborative effort between numerous film studios, one of which was the British Broadcasting Corporation. Christian Slater himself served as co-producer. At one point, John Woo was attached to direct the film, 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, 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. However, the film still retained that title in numerous other countries.
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, Ontario, 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 a movie 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."
Hard Rain opened on Martin Luther King long weekend in 1998 earning fifth place with $7.1 million from Friday to Sunday and $8 million including the holiday Monday. In the end, the film made $19.9 million in the US on a $70 million budget.
The production costs were however remade by high VHS and DVD sales, and some overseas box offices. Due to its poor box office performance in the US, the film was released straight to video in most countries. However, in the UK, a 2004 showing on BBC One was very well received.
The film received polarized reviews, some very positive and some very negative. One example of a positive review was on timeout.com, which 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. Another review, on starpulse.com, praised the action scenes of Hard Rain yet criticized the plot, calling it "mindless" yet "entertaining". 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".
The film grossed $19.9 million in the US on a $70 million budget, and it has a 28% approval rating based on 43 reviews on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
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- Collins, Andrew (December 1, 2015). "Hard Rain Review". Empire. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
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- "Weekend Box Office Chart for January 16th, 1998". The Numbers.
- "Daily Box Office Chart for Monday January 19th, 1998". The Numbers.
- "Hard Rain (1998) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
- "Hard Rain". Time Out. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012.
- "Hard Rain". Starpulse. Archived from the original on 2005-02-04.
- "The 50 biggest movie flops that deserved better". Total Film. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
- "Hard Rain (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.