January 20, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 60  

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Torque: fast action, crappy plot

Starring: Martin Henderson, Monet Mazur, Matt Schulze
Directed by: Joseph Kahn

By David Lee
Gazette Staff

“Ladies and gentlemen, pop your Ritalin!”

Gazette file photo
HOPEFULLY I CAN DRIVE OFF THE SET UNNOTICED. Ice Cube, who stars in the terrible Torque, attempts to leave the set during the movie’s filming. He was later captured and forced to make the movie.

Torque, a biker movie in the same vein as The Fast and the Furious, would have been better served with that phrase as its tagline instead of the uninspired “Rule the Road.” With a cast of has-beens and never-wases, a pedestrian plot with numerous gaps and several shots that defy all logic and gravity, Torque defies its very definition and never turns a corner.

The film stars Henderson as Cary Ford, a Patrick Roy look-alike biker back from a six month sabbatical in Thailand. Ford has returned to Los Angeles after leaving the city to avoid the fuzz. Driven by the phrase “Carpe Diem” that is stitched onto his leathers, he’s come back to set things right. First on the list is his ex-girlfriend Shane (Mazur) and Henry James (Schulze), leader of a biker gang known as The Hellions.

While the story may seem bearable at the outset, it quickly spins away from rationality. An Inglewood-based biker gang known as the Reapers (led by Ice Cube as Trey) have a bone to pick with Ford, and within 20 minutes, Trey’s younger brother is killed in a nightclub and Ford is named the prime suspect. On the run from James, Trey and the FBI, Ford and his crew are forced to band together to prove their innocence. Then the zaniness begins.

In an attempt to look thoughtful and brooding, the characters often toss half-full bottles of beer over their shoulders. Though they are drinking Budweiser, which merits such a toss, it’s incredibly painful to watch.

The relaxed sense of racism in the movie is also troublesome. The problem goes beyond Ice Cube, who refers to everyone by the colour of their ass (i.e. “move your black ass!”) The worst example is when James asks Ford how he liked “Chinkland.” Instead of being taken aback by the affront, Ford calmly points out that he was in Thailand and that only China can be considered Chinkland.

However, after Ford and his crew hide out in an abandoned mine, the movie plays host to one of its few high points. As Ford moodily walks away, he claims that he “live[s] his life a quarter-mile at a time.” Shane responds by saying, “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.” Take that, Vin Diesel.

Torque is directed by Joseph Kahn, the latest music video director to make the jump to the silver screen. One of the techniques Kahn “borrows” from Fast and the Furious is the computer-generated shots from inside the engine. Kahn’s directing style is best characterized by ultra-fast edits that impart a genuine sense of speed to the audience. However, the spastic cuts also make the plot impossible to follow.

Besides all of these problems, Torque is incredibly short, perhaps mercifully so. Everything is wrapped up in a neat little package in under 90 minutes, leaving the audience to wonder where their money and brain cells went.

That’s not to say the movie is not without its own qualities. You’ll have a few laughs at the implausibility of the plot, and the eye candy isn’t half bad, either. If you like seeing fast bikes zoom past you, I recommend sitting in traffic rather than seeing this movie. But if that seems too dangerous for you, I’d still recommend sitting at home over seeing this piece of trash.



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