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Torque (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 2 commentaries; Race and train sequences from animatic through final edit; Youngblood Lean Love music video; Trailer.

MOTORBIKES replace cars in this brain-dead modern Western from the producers of the Fast and the Furious, which appears to be running on empty from practically the word go.

Torque attempts to explore the high-octane world of renegade bikers, much in the same way that Vin Diesel and co lifted the lid on illegal street racing, but feels like a pale imitation of better movies from the off.

Martin Henderson stars as biker, Cary Ford, who returns to his home-town to reunite with his girlfriend, Shane (Monet Mazur), and clear his name of drug-dealing and theft.

However, his re-appearance re-ignites the interest of the FBI agent on his trail, as well as Matt Schulze’s rival gang member, Henry, who blames Cary for the loss of a large drugs stash.

Believing that Cary still possesses the haul, Henry frames him for the murder of Junior, the younger brother of another gang leader, Trey (Ice Cube), in a bid to apply the pressure, sparking off a gang war which can have only one victor.

Using the format of Westerns such as High Noon, and the nobility of ‘a man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do’, Torque attempts to throw a contemporary spin on a well-ridden genre by keeping its foot on the pedal throughout.

Hence, a taut running time (80 minutes), and one spectacular action sequence after another, are meant to fill in the void left by the gaping lack of plot and logic.

And while there is a certain guilty pleasure to be had in watching the stunts and mayhem unfold, usually accompanied by a hip-hop or nu-metal soundtrack, the film can’t avoid the pitfalls of slipping from knowingly bad (or corny), to offensively bad (and crap), by the time things reach their overblown finale.

Henderson, last seen as Naomi Watts’ photographer boyfriend in The Ring remake, cuts a suitably moody hero figure, but is ill-served by a laughable script, and a curious lack of chemistry with just about everyone around him, while the likes of Schulze (a Fast and the Furious veteran) and Cube seem unsure whether to play it straight up mean and nasty, or with their tongue slightly rolled into their cheek.

Cube, in particular, seems to over-emphasise every sentence he utters, which only serves to highlight just how bad they are, while Schulze lacks the charisma needed to make a really notable villain.

The bikes, themselves, will probably appeal to the racing crowd, or the pre-teens who have grown up on a diet of quick-fix X-box thrills and MTV music videos (of which the director is a veteran), but once the action drifts into effects-driven overload, you may just as well be watching a computer game, than a piece of film.

It’s fun in places and does have the good sense to realise its own stupidity, and macho-excess, but that really shouldn’t let it off the hook for losing its way during the ludicrous final third - the banality of which prompted me to hope that Hollywood puts the brakes on this sort of thing as soon as possible.

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