Genre Spotlight: Driven
Driven is an open wheel racing film, directed by Renny Harlin and starring Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote and produced the thing. It centers on a young racing driver’s efforts to win the now defunct ChampCar World Series, while being aided by a retired veteran, and hindered by his own self doubt.
Completely unfaithful to its source material, Driven presents a very simplistic and Michael Bay-esqe fantasy version of open wheel racing.
The cars in this film perform ridiculous maneuvers that flip the bird to the laws of physics. They power slide and scream through the packed streets of Chicago in high speed chases, and flip through the air in slow motion before crashing into bizarrely located lakes and catching fire.
The only thing as dumb as the action on the race track is the plot that drives the film.
A rookie driver suffering from nerves is helped to regain his edge by his wheelchair-bound crew chief (Burt Reynolds in shameless bill paying mode) bringing back an old racing star to guide him through his troubles. So far, not too bad. Bit samey, but not too bad. Add in conflicts between the rookie and his brother, the rookie and his rival, the rookie and his rival’s ex, the rookie and his crew chief…. It gets a bit tedious. Instead of character development, you get character destruction. The rookie starts off being sympathetic, but all the moaning and pouting he does makes him very annoying very quickly.
The film makes racing drivers look like a bunch of whining babies, who are unable to connect with reality in any way, and rely on weird bromances and copping off with each others’ women to provide sources off entertainment.
If Driven was a serious dramatic look behind the curtain, in the style of The Wrestler for instance, then stuff like this might have been interesting to watch. Instead, it actually hinders the film a little.
The sense of brotherhood stuff is, according to a friend of mine who was involved in Canadian open-wheel racing at one point, bordering on insane in Driven. Yes, there exists intense friendships between racing rivals, but they wouldn’t marry another driver’s ex-wive and then invite the guy to the wedding., as happens in this film.
Not to say there isn’t some enjoyment to be found in Driven.
The driving sections, though absurd, are incredibly exciting, and the soundtrack and fast editing intensely exhilarating. It’s like watching a computer game at times, albeit one with terribly written cut scenes and slightly dodgy graphics.
Driven is great with a few beers and a group of friends. The high octane racing and OTT cg-aided stunts really get your blood pumping, and as long as you can forgive the dreadful acting and script (this is where the beer comes in handy) the film is not that bad really.
Just don’t expect too much realism or adhering to its source material.
Posted on September 23, 2011, in Genre Spotlight, Sports and tagged Sylvester Stallone, Renny Harlin, Kip Pardue, Til Schweiger. Burt Reynolds, Stacy Edwards. Estella Warren, Gina Gershon, Sean Leonard, Brent Briscoe, Cristian de la Fuente, Driven, Racing. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.