Aptly titled for the vanity plate on what is essentially its main character – a shiny new tricked-out Lexus – H4Z4RD has a lot of talent behind the camera. Scripted by Cheap Thrills and 68 Kill’s Trent Haaga, there’s a madcap energy to the writing that’s hard to find in more mainstream genre fare, and with Cub’s Jonas Govaerts on directing duties, it’s a gorgeous, slick-looking journey to take too. Albeit one that sadly never quite seems to equate to the sum of its wickedly ambitious parts.

Electronic music star Dimitri ‘Vegas’ Thivaios makes his leading-man debut as Noah, a former getaway driver turned family man who finds himself dragged back into Antwerp’s seedy underbelly by his fresh-out-of-prison cousin Carlos (Jeroen Perceval). Naturally, there’s a drug heist on the cards, followed by a shootout, followed by Noah’s young daughter being ruthlessly kidnapped by some very bad people, and before he knows it, Noah finds himself thrust into a very messy deal to save his family, his future, but sadly not his car, from imminent destruction.

In fact, Haaga’s script makes it clear right from the off that H4Z4RD is planned as a very wild ride indeed, twinning the iconography of something like Drive with both the soundtrack and the “time is running out” spirit of Euro thriller Run Lola Run. Thivaios is fantastic as a very restrained wheelman, forever going where he doesn’t want to go; the condensed time-frame, with regular check-ins with the car’s on-board clock, is a smart, tension-ramping touch; and even the car itself is terrifically built, with Govaerts filling the film with cheeky little POVs from everything from the headlights to the exhaust pipe.

HazardThere’s a wild selection of wonderfully played, totally bananas sequences, too; one involving an erotically-charged run-in with a security guard is particularly squirm-inducing. But the reality of H4Z4RD is that it ironically never feels quite fast enough to ever fully take-off in the same thrilling way that it wants to.

The individual sequences, as slickly-staged as they are, are just that – individual – missing the connective tissue needed to string them together in a more meaningful way. The opening act is a surprisingly slow one, setting the stakes well, but already sacrificing some of that much-needed energy. And when Govaerts and Haaga do get the plot going fully, they play their best cards first, creating an unusual energy shift where the film oddly feels like it’s forever chasing a high it’s already delivered.

There’s some terrifically obvious set-ups in the script too, which often, sadly, don’t land with as much impact as you’d expect. So for a team that sets the bar exceedingly high early on, it ultimately just becomes a frustrating exercise in diminishing returns.

H4Z4RD is by all means a fun ride, and while its downward spiral does eventually make for a difficult final act, it’s at the very least a bold and adventurous attempt at something truly wild.

H4Z4RD was screened as part of Arrow Video FrightFest 2022.