Eye For Film >> Movies >> Driven (2001) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
To the uninitiated, motor racing is the noisiest, most dangerous spectator sport on the planet. To speed freaks, it's the closest you'll ever be to nirvana. To moviegoers, the plot lines are limited to who's-going-to-get-the-girl and who's-going-to-win-the-championship.
Driven is Sly Stallone's project. He spent five years researching it, writing the script and finding a co-producer with enough money and enthusiasm. You cannot help but admire his tenacity.
The Finnish-born director, Renny Harlin, became known for big-budget action pictures after Die Hard II. He's a good choice because he's not afraid to take risks and knows how to handle the fast stuff, especially car crashes.
As for the human ingredients, that's a little less straightforward. Racing drivers have the reputation of being focused automatons, or wild men with voracious sexual appetites.
Driven has an automaton (Til Schweiger) as the reigning champion and a rookie kid (Kip Pardue) as the contender, who more-or-less share the affections of the same girl (Estella Warren), although there is nothing menage-a-troisish about it.
Stallone plays a role similar to Robert Duvall's in Days Of Thunder ("Someone who has been to the top of the mountain and stumbled all the way to the bottom"), brought out of retirement to help the kid cope with the pressures of fame and be there for him on the track.
A team of real life drivers, including Jean Alesi, Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve, burn rubber mercilessly around the circuits for the sake of authenticity. The action sequences are state-of-the-art and there is a chase through the busy streets of Chicago in racing cars that is genuinely thrilling.
Stallone's script passes muster within the confines of a well-defined structure. The characters have enough individuality to live and breathe outside their stereotypes, except Burt Reynolds's disabled team boss, who remains as artificially taut as the skin on his face.
Gina Gerson, as Stallone's ex, now married to a Chilean driver ("He's a younger, better you"), is brutally bitchy. Robert Sean Leonard, as Pardue's brother and manager, cuts a mean swathe through sibling blood ties. Warren has recovered from being the token tottie in The Planet Of The Apes and proves that she's not just a Canadian model who once competed at synchronised swimming.
Pardue has blond good looks, prevalent in the Hollywood Identikit youth market, without managing to discover a personality. Stallone, on the other hand, has found a new role as character actor. By standing back, he stands out.Reviewed on: 04 Oct 2001