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TORQUE (PG-13) (2004)

Warner Brothers Pictures

Official Site

Director: Joseph Kahn

Producer: Neal H. Moritz, Brad Luff

Screenwriter: Matt Johnson

Cast: Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur, Adam Scott, Matt Schulze, Jay Hernandez

Rating: out of 5

Torque is the most recent of the motor vehicle movies that started with The Fast And The Furious. This movie starts with a pair of hotrods racing through the desert at top speed only to be outstripped by a motorcycle, as if to remind us that bikes are indeed faster than cars.

Pretty biker boy Ford (Henderson) returns to the States after a six-month retreat to Thailand to catch up with his girlfriend Shane (Mazur) and clear his name with FBI agent McPherson (Scott). Rival biker Henry (Schulze) wants Ford to turn over $1,000,000 in crystal meth and when Ford doesn’t he finds himself framed for murder. The rest of the movie is one big long chase with Ford on the run from the Feds, Henry, and the Reapers, another biker gang led by Trey Wallace (Ice Cube), who is the murder victim’s elder brother.

This is Joseph Kahn’s feature film debut and it looks like he hasn’t got an original idea in his head. Every trick used in this movie was done in either of the Fast And Furious movies. Cameras showing internal workings of the car engine?  Check. Artificial tunnel vision whenever fast driving takes place? Check. Loud music playing while random almost-naked girls parade round? Yup, he’s got that too. Many of the film’s chases are either too ludicrous to be interesting or just impossible to follow due to excessive special effects and jump-cutting.

No one in this picture seems capable of more than one facial expression, but at least they are consistent. Henderson and Mazur look cute and spunky; Ice Cube and Schulze look mean and angry. Scott’s Agent McPherson provides the film’s few comic moments with his incompetent but zealous law enforcement efforts. Occasionally the film looks like it might surprise us slipping into parody, but those moments vanish almost as soon as they appear.

Torque is filled with needless fistfights, scantily clad women, chrome motorcycle parts, and, of course, chases. This whole movie has no reason to exist. The only reason this movie garners its meager half-star rating is because Ice Cube is in the movie and because one character escapes Hollywood cliché by recommending they all go to the police to sort things out. Everything about it has been done and done better within the last two years. Maybe the bigwigs at Warner Brothers think we all lack the basic ability to retain plots and therefore will keep paying to see ever-crappier incarnations of what was an already crappy movie to begin with. Perhaps Torque was just one last attempt to cash in before the well went totally dry, but if that is the case it is at least one movie too many.

—Woodrow Bogucki

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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