The World's Fastest Indian - Review
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S ironic that a film called The World’s Fastest Indian should unfold at such a slow pace but that doesn’t harm the overall enjoyment of this unashamedly old-fashioned road movie, based on a true story.
Anthony Hopkins plays Burt Munro, an elderly New Zealander famous for taking his modified 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle to Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats where he promptly set a world record that still stands today.
Roger Donaldson’s film picks up as his home-town community rallies around Burt to ensure he can realise his ambition through to the setting of the record in Utah.
In between, it takes the form of a leisurely road movie as the eccentric but charming old codger slowly makes his way to Bonneville while meeting all manner of interesting characters en route.
Much of the enjoyment in watching the journey unfold stems from Hopkins’ masterly performance, which mixes Burt’s easygoing charisma with an old-fashioned naivety.
There are several occasions when the intrepid adventurer looks destined to fail as a result of failing health or a lack of cash, but owing to his unnerving determination he always manages to win through.
It means that audiences willing to embrace Burt’s challenge are duly rewarded for their patience with a suitably emotional ending.
Yet so much of Donaldson’s movie thrives on old-fashioned values such as straight-forward decency and engaging personalities that it makes a refreshing change from some of the more heavy-going true stories out there.
Aided by Donaldson’s unshowy direction, Hopkins provides a genuinely engaging presence as Burt that is further enhanced by a strong supportinging cast, including Chris Williams as an affable transvestite and Paul Rodriguez as a helpful used car salesman.
The 1920 Indian Scout of the title also provides a noteworthy presence – as rickety and vulnerable as Burt himself, yet capable of delivering against the odds.
Donaldson has long been fascinated by the story of Burt Munro, having previously delivered a documentary on the subject entitled Offerings To The God Of Speed.
With the film version of the story, he has succeeded in delivering an inspiring and uplifting tale that is all about the triumph of the human spirit. Audiences should justifiably be amazed.
Running time: 2hrs 7mins