Ewan Gleadow

Review: Thunder Road

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To write, direct, star, score and edit your own movie on a budget of less than half a million is a testament in itself. Jim Cummings appears to be the next Jon Favreau in that regard, the ability to juggle so many different roles all at once in such a short span of time will never not be impressive. His work on his first feature film, Thunder Road, is impressive to say the least, a formidable debut that inspires a lot of confidence for his future outputs. 

Cummings plays Jim Arnaud, a police officer caught in the headlights of a mid-life crisis. He’s unfulfilled with his career, his mother has just died, he’s getting a divorce and his daughter hates him. It’s a cliché pile up that’s held together solely by the charm of its lead performer. Cummings gives a great performance, with the character holding a number of less than desirable traits, along with a handful of redeeming ones. Throughout the movie it’s hard to fully understand or rally for Arnaud, and it makes the movie that much more interesting.  

His focus on swooping camera shots, slow zooms and tight cinematography is Thunder Road’s strongest trait. This is a really well acted piece of cinema that is complimented greatly by its work behind the camera and in the editing room. It keeps the pace of the movie going, which never wavers throughout a comfortable hour and a half of viewing time.  

It’s the comedy elements that are the most hit and miss of all though. The opening to the movie is incredible, a real testament to battle against the “modern comedy is bad” argument, but the rest of the movie fails to reach those early heights again.  

Although the direction is great and Cummings is a real charm, he sometimes gets lost in his own message. Some scenes, specifically with Arnaud and his daughter, are lacking when compared to the rest of the movie, especially the dynamic between Arnaud and his ex-wife. The writing really makes up for slower scenes, and the faster scenes make up for poorer pieces of writing. It’s a system that works, but for the entire movie it feels like there’s something lacking. 

Still, this is by far one of the strongest debuts since Tarantino gave us Reservoir Dogs.  Jim Cummings’ Thunder Road is an amicable and thoroughly enjoyable feature that’s well worth the watch. Full of strong character development, an enjoyable story and great performances, it’s a hidden gem of 2018 that you should watch right away.