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Torque

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 02/25/05 01:56:23

"For those unable to comprehend the complex plotting of 2 Fast 2 Furious."
1 stars (Sucks)

“What is it about driving cars that makes you all assholes?” asks one character in “Torque,” and I’d like to ask the same question. The movie, a weak-ass rip-off of “The Fast and the Furious” and “Biker Boyz,” is a glorious parade of idiocy, a grand exercise in dumbness. It’s as half-witted as they get, with moronic characters and asinine situations glued together by a string of poorly filmed chase scenes. This is a movie so stupid, I’m surprised Paul Walker isn’t in it.

It’s also very, very funny, if you’re into the laughing at Bad Movies thing. Allow me to present an actual line of dialogue between two secondary characters:

Biker dude: “Nike bike.”
Biker chick: “Nice ass.”
Biker dude: “Got a name?”
Biker chick: “Yeah.”

That’s it, folks. And it’s even more hilarious than it reads. First time screenwriter Matt Johnson has filled his script with plenty of exchanges like this, which I’m sure he thought were clever but are just comically inept. (He is honest, however: when the lead character makes the hardass Vin Diesel-esque comment that “I live my life a quarter mile at a time,” another character pipes up with “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Too true.)

Although Johnson’s dialogue is a masterstroke of inanity, it has nothing on the plot, which goes a little something like this. Ford (Martin Henderson, that hump from “The Ring“) is a badass biker who spent the last six months hiding out in Asia after a badass biker named Henry (Matt Schulze) set him up with the feds, something to do with two motorcycles filled with crystal meth. (Don’t ask.) Ford’s back now, hoping to win over his ex-girlfriend Shane (Monet Mazur) and clear his name by proving Henry’s guilt.

But then there’s the trouble of Junior (Fredro Starr), badass biker brother of Trey (Ice Cube), badass biker leader of the Reapers. Junior wants the Reapers to start dealing drugs, or something, with Henry’s help; Trey says no, dope is for dopes. Ford somehow gets mixed up in this, Henry kills Junior but pins the murder on Ford (by having Henry’s girlfriend act as the sole witness, a fact that Trey never questions), and Ford must run from the Reapers, Henry’s gang, and McPherson (Adam Scott), a schmuck from the “Federal Gang Task Force.”

Clearing his name, it turns out, involves driving very fast across the west coast, which includes riding a bike atop a speeding train. This would be an impressive stunt if a) the cheap CGI didn’t look so embarrassingly fakey, and b) the great Michelle Yeoh hadn’t done the same feat - for real - in “Supercop.”

There’s also the revelation that since Henry strangled Junior with his bike chain, clearing Henry’s name will be a cinch. You see, no two bikes leave the same tread marks on a chain (“Just like a fingerprint!”), and if the good guys can get Henry’s bike to the feds, the mystery will be solved. I do not know enough about motorcycles to know if this is true, but I know enough about movies to know that this is stupid.

And yes, this is one of those movies in which everyone has to say everything out loud, clarifying the action. “They’re going into the trees!” one yells as they go into the trees. “He’s shooting at us!” another yells as he shoots at them. You get the idea. The whole movie runs like this, people.

If you think the script sounds remarkably dumb, just wait until you see the action sequences. Everything’s so incompetently filmed, as if director Joseph Kahn learned how to film an action movie by watching all the Michael Bay movies, and he still couldn’t get that right. He’s like McG without the high budget. Cameras spin around actors for no reason (creating “tension”), CG footage takes us inside the engine (just like in “Fast and the Furious!”), and lots of stuff gets blowed up real good in a highway chase that’s a blatant steal from “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Bad Boys II,” two films that really don’t need to inspire any copycats.

Then comes the incredible showdown between Shane and Henry’s girlfriend, played by Jaime Pressley in ridiculous goth makeup. Behind one woman stands a twenty-foot tall billboard for Pepsi; behind another, one for Mountain Dew. The ladies pause, revving their engines and giving the Pepsi-Cola Corporation plenty of value for their product placement dollar. Bikes race, and then the women stop again, only to show off the billboards some more. For a minute, I thought I was watching one of those terrible pre-movie Pepsi commercials. You know, the crap they force you to watch while they call it the “Pre-Show Countdown.”

Ah, well. At least “Torque” (which, sadly, had nothing to do with former Monkee Peter Tork - come on, folks, how ’bout a cameo for the guy?) inspired a potential drinking game. Keep an eye on the cast, all of which have a beer in their hand for at least half of the film. No character, I guess, is allowed to merely throw their bottle in the trash. No, everyone - and I mean everyone - throws their bottles behind them, into the lawn, oftentimes without drinking half the bottle. So folks, every time a beer bottle gets tossed aside, take a swig. Might as well. This movie’ll kill countless brain cells anyway.

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