R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Joseph Kahn
scr Matt Johnson
with Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur, Matt Schulze, Jay Hernandez, Will Yun Lee, Max Beesley, Jaime Pressly, Adam Scott, Justina Machado, Faizon Love, Christina Milian
release US 16.Jan.04, UK 5.Mar.04
04/US 1h21

Sieze the day: Hernandez, Henderson and Lee (above); Mazur with Henderson (below).

henderson cube beesley
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torque A better title would have been The Loud and the Ludicrous, as this noisy motorbike action movie strives to catch the energy of those fast, furious car flicks. If it took itself just a little less seriously it could have been great fun; but it isn't even coherent enough to work as a spoof.

The Western-inspired plot actually has promise: After several months in hiding, Ford (Henderson) comes back to town with his two loyal sidekicks (Hernandez and Lee) to settle an old score involving two drug-filled motorcycles he stole from a pair of vicious dealers (Schulze and Beesley). But the druggies turn the tables, and frame Ford for the murder of the hothead baby brother of a gang leader (Cube). So while Ford tries to rekindle the romance with the girl (Mazur) he left in the lurch, he also has to outwit the thugs, outrun the angry brother and stay out of reach of a pair of fashionista FBI agents (Scott and Machado).

The problem isn't the plot, it's the way music video veteran Kahn directs the film with a total disregard for storytelling. He subverts every scene with jangled camera work, unnecessarily choppy editing, deafening sound effects and gratuitous digital whizzery. All of which muddles and dilutes the film hopelessly. The actors struggle manfully to cope with the chaos; Henderson emerges above the din as a magnetic leading man in search of a decent director. The cast around him also have their moments, although Cube does little besides snarl at the camera, and Beesley really needs to stop trying to play tough guys. Everyone looks great in his or her formfitting leathers, but watching them is the only joy in the whole movie. It's in desperate need of both comic relief (the few attempts are seriously lame) and sex (or at least a bit of shirtlessness). It's such an illogical concoction that after the first few minutes, as you adjust your senses to the onslaught, you begin to wonder if this is a parody of boisterous action movies. No such luck.

cert 15 themes, violence, language 23.Feb.04

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2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall