Review Date: April 26, 2001
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Producers: Sylvester Stallone, Renny Harlin, Elie Samaha
A veteran racing champ is brought back to help an up and coming driver develop his mental skills, in order to survive and thrive in the ultra-competitive environment of CART auto racing.
Granted, this film's got a rockin' soundtrack and some nifty race scenes, but what's the point if the story is generic, the dramatic scenes sappy and the whole damn pile predictable? This movie surprised me as much as yesterday's headline that read, "Robert Downey Jr. arrested". C'mon Stallone...give us a little shocker here and there. Toss us a bone, dude! You're on autopilot as the screenwriter of this movie, man, enough of the "older, wiser veteran saving the younger, cockier protégé" plotlines! And Renny, I love you babe, you're a great action movie director, but quick cuts aren't necessarily the best way to shoot dramatic scenes. And as much as I don't mind googling at beautiful babes throughout, was it really necessary to feature different women shaking their asses and munching on "phallic symbols" in every pre-race montage? Oh I get it: men = macho, women = sexy. Maybe a little too subtle there, bubba. But that's the problem with this whole movie. It's just too dumbed down! No real suspense. No real drama. No real surprises. Just some great action scenes featuring cars swerving around racetracks at many a mile an hour while kick arse songs blare on in the background. Now as much as that might work for a 3-minute music video (which this movie felt like during some of its scenes), a "motion picture" is actually supposed to include some characters we give a crap about, decent acting, good dialogue and an engaging story. Oh and did I mention the completely one-dimensional "bad guys" (the brother character was a complete a-hole from start to finish).
And what was with the horrible CGI effects of the car parts flying around after a crash?!? Yikes, fire the folks behind that stuff, because that took me right OUT of the movie, man! But I'm not gonna totally trash this film because it did have some mindless entertainment value attached. Some of the POV (point of view) shots utilized by the director during the car races were simply astounding, really getting you in there with the drivers (kinda like Ollie Stone did with ANY GIVEN SUNDAY). And even though the whole story was entirely predictable and the delivery of some of the bad dialogue, embarrassing to witness, the film might entertain you on a certain level, if you just don't care to be surprised or fully engaged in narrative. I mean, once you accept the fact that you know what's gonna happen, you could actually enjoy some of it, especially the race scenes. So overall, I will still sorta recommend that you see this movie on video, but only if you like race car driving, don't mind cliché after cliche and dig Stallone, cause he was actually the best actor in this movie (and that's saying a lot!).
On a personal note, it was also kinda cool to see the actual tunnel that I drove through to get to this movie, featured in the film's ultimate high-energy sequence (when the drivers take their automobiles to the streets of "Chicago" aka Montreal, Canada).
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian