Torque is a stupid movie. It knows how stupid it is, so it tries to make itself enjoyable, and it is, to a degree. This is the bastard son of Biker Boyz, which itself was a motorcycle take on The Fast and the Furious. Like those other two movies, a frontal lobotomy is necessary for best optimum viewing. The director, Joseph Khan, has a background in music videos, and it is evident here. He knows how to convey ideas quickly so that people pay attention, and to his credit, he manages to do it for the duration of the film. That is also probably why the film is (thankfully) so short. Torque is beautifully edited, a non-stop pastiche of flashy images; extremely hot people in leather, people riding really fast on bikes, and extremely hot people in leather riding really fast on bikes. On this level, it is fun watching Torque, but painful listening to it when people start speaking. There is a beautiful shot near the beginning, where Khan slows things down. Three of his protagonists round a corner, leaning far on their bikes while windmills on a wind farm rotate slowly in the background.
It works best when using stuntmen and real bikes. Shots of people racing each other down abandoned highways are thrilling, edited quickly for a schizophrenic feel. Then, Khan delves into computer-generated idiocy, particularly when Ford (Martin Henderson, The Ring, Windtalkers) and Trey (Ice Cube, Friday After Next, Barbershop) take their pursuit on top of a moving train, and the finale, where Henderson races the streets of Los Angeles on a jet engine-powered bike (huh?). Khan wants it to look cool, but it looks and feels really stupid. There is a certain amount of unrealism people are willing to tolerate when watching an action movie, but bikes riding across the top of a train takes it too far. It changes the awe of the viewer into unintentional laughs, which also happen in Matt Johnson's script every single time somebody opens their mouth to speak.
Ford is wanted by everybody. He's back, after six months in Thailand. He was looking after two of Henry's (Matt Schulze, The Transporter, Blade II) bikes when he discovered crystal meth in their tanks. See, Henry is a drug dealer. He hid the bikes, unleashing the wrath of Henry (O Henry!) and attracted the attention of FBI Agent McPherson (Adam Scott, High Crimes, Ronnie), who thinks he is a dealer. He skipped out on his girlfriend Shane (Monet Mazur, Just Married, 40 Days & 40 Nights), but now wants to come back and set everything straight. No, it doesn't make any sense, but Khan keeps things moving so quickly that Torque almost never slows down long enough for people to think. It just races along, throwing a succession of images out at the audience. Khan is actually smart to do this, since any sustained pauses will allow the audience to think, and thus reveal the lameness of the story.
Henry wants his drugs back and frames Ford for the death of Trey's brother. Now, Henry, Trey, and McPherson are after Ford, so of course he decides never to change out of his bright orange jumpsuit that yells "Carpe Diem" across the front while making his way back to Los Angeles, where everybody is waiting for him. To garner the widest possible audience, there is a character for every ethnicity, white (Henderson), African-American (Cube), Asian (Will Yun Lee, Die Another Day, What's Cooking?) and Latino (Jay Hernandez, The Rookie, Joy Ride). Plus, the women are incredibly hot. It's too bad that except for Ice Cube, nobody has a personality. Ice Cube has a wonderful sneer. In action movies, he has the ability to look like something really pissed him off, and he uses it here. Mazur tries desperately to look tough, but it never works. Jaime Pressly (Not Another Teen Movie, Joe Dirt) makes for an extremely hot goth chick, with lots of dark makeup, tats, and piercings. And another ridiculous showdown between her and Mazur serves as a chance for one of the more blatant examples of random product placement in recent history. Does it make sense why there are two huge billboards for soda in this random section of Los Angeles? No, but neither does the rest of Torque.
|Haro Rates It: Okay.|
|1 hour, 21 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, language, and drug references.|
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