So, the ritual begins: It’s Friday or Saturday night, and you just got off work. Or maybe you played hooky, or maybe you’re hung over and now you’re looking for something to do. You could always watch porn. Download stuff on the not-so-free Napster. But for all intents and purposes, you decide that that new Ice Cube movie might be worth a go. You stand in a line with your friends and comment on how much you hated xXx, SWAT, or even the Point Break rip-off, The Fast and the Furious. You’re so much above all junk cinema, but yet, you’re standing in line for yet another junker called Torque.
No one will ever accuse Torque of being a good movie, but who’s gonna walk away saying they didn’t have a good time? If you’re the kind of person that goes through the above ritual every weekend, then you’re the kind that walks away feeling satisfied after watching Torque. It’s a live-action cartoon more than it is a movie, and it actually succeeds where those other lamer flicks mentioned above have failed. Every frame of the movie is exaggerated and distances you from reality to a point where you’re actually engrossed in the world that’s created. Sure, you got your stereotypical dogma oozing from every nook, but what movie doesn’t? This movie actually has a plot. (Probably too much plot, but better more than not enough).
This is a story about a young, good-looking dude who’s returned to sunny Cal after six months in Taiwan to evade the FBI on a drug bust. Then there are the gangs: One led by Ice “Trey” Cube and the other by the dude from Blade 2. They’re at odds and want to kick each other’s ass, but never seem to get around to it. While The Fast and the Furious was more like Point Break, Torque is more like Payback. You have a central character who’s manipulating all these forces to clear his own name. Sure, this flick is designed around motorcycles and stuff, but it’s all about the action and loud Dolby pseudo-surround. Expecting little is be the best way to view this flick. It’s over the top and ludicrous, but it pays off if you’re an action fan. The action isn’t great, but it’s a hell of a lot better than its recent predecessors.
One of the things that American cinema has always been good at is car chases. Martial arts (or Cyber Fu) is a clumsy art form in the hands of Americans. Intellectuality has never been a movie-going consideration (hence, making Titanic a box office monster). Special effects are designed by our highest paid high school nerds who replaced the high school jock-turned-stuntman and sent him back to the unemployment line. And who knows how to blow shit up better than Americana? So, with the movie drought presently upon us and the blizzard of Oscar contenders suffocating the market, Torque will have to do until the arrival of Hellboy and The Punisher.
Torque (3 out of Four)
PG-13, 2004, 90 min., Warner Bros.
Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Masur, Adam Scott, Matt Schulze, Jaime Pressly, Jay Hernandez, Music by Trevor Rabin, Written by Matt Johnson, Produced by Neal H. Moritz ad Brad Luff and Directed by Joseph Kahn.
Flicks to Watch Just Because of the Chases and Fights:
The Matrix Reloaded, The Rundown, Desperado, Leon: The Professional, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Lethal Weapon 3, Lethal Weapon 4, Speed, Gone in 60 Seconds, Belleman and True, The Presidio, The Fast and the Furious, Point Break, Cyclone, The Stunt Man, Freebie and the Bean, The 7-Ups, The French Connection, Shakedown, The Italian Job, To Live and Die in LA, Hardboiled, Crying Freeman, Akira (Special Edition), Castle of the Cagliostro, Castle in the Sky, Robot Carnival, Tron, FLCL (Fooly Cooly), Empire Strikes Back…