Most cinephiles will know Trent Haaga either as the murderous demon clown Killjoy or from his screenwriting duties on several Troma releases, including Citizen Toxie and Hell Asylum. The man is still working, creating insane art, such as the pitch-perfect absurdity of Mad Heidi. Now he’s back in the writer’s chair with the Dutch action-comedy H4z4rd, directed by Jonas Govaerts. No, the “fours” in the title don’t seem to mean anything, so who knows why it is stylized that way.
Noah Hazard (Dimitri Thivaios) is a low-level criminal who can drive with an almost supernatural-like ability. Aside from his car, the man loves his girlfriend, Lea (Jennifer Heylen), and their daughter, Zita (Mila Rooms). Noah and Lea talk about getting out of Antwerp and buying a house in the country somewhere. Unfortunately, this is just a pipe dream due to a severe lack of money.
However, Noah’s recently released cousin, the insane Carlos (Jeroen Perceval), has a simple driving job that will pay big if successful. But things don’t go according to plan, and the third man on this mission is shot and bleeds out. Now, the lady Noah and Carlos stole from is pursuing them while entanglements with the Gecko gang and a roving pack of hungry wolves don’t help matters. The biggest problem is that Noah’s actions may have put Lea and Zita in harm’s way.
“…the lady Noah and Carlos stole from is pursuing them while entanglements with the Gecko gang and a roving pack of hungry wolves don’t help…”
H4z4rd is a modern-day Crank: high octane, all style, flashy direction, and editing with plenty of exciting action and humor peppered in along the way. This is a purely cinematic experience as it cannot be replicated in any other medium and still have the same impact. And that’s why the film is so awesome.
The plot is nothing that new. A person gets in over their head with the wrong crowd, who demand certain things back. This puts loved ones in danger. But Govaerts’s style is slick and fun, offering a fresh take on old material. Plus, the dialogue is often very witty. A lady confuses Noah for Carlos, as she hasn’t seen them in years. But she vividly recalls the two being hellions as young kids. Apparently, not much has changed. The trip sequence from Carlos’ perspective, in the middle of a car chase, adds the right amount of humor to the extremely impressive stunts and vehicular mayhem on display. It’s fun, funny, exciting, and just plain cool.
The cast of H4z4rd is a big reason it works so well. Thivaios is very charming as Noah. His chemistry with Rooms is excellent, and the man sells the deepening frustrations of the character. The Geckos, dicks that they are, steal the ever-important flasks he needs. When he believes they got away, the yell is so genuine it is impressive. Perceval is fun to hate as the cousin who has no idea how dumb he actually is. Rooms is adorable as the plucky daughter put in a dangerous situation.
Despite the numbers in the title, H4z4rd is not a sequel. It is a slick, ultra-cool action flick that will leave audiences breathless. Strap in, hold on tight, and prepare for one helluva ride.