Review: “Torque”

Extreme sports action movies all follow the same principle. Start by mixing a bunch of briskly edited chase/stunt sequences around a bad “Miami Vice”-esque plot – usually fellow sport enthusiast gang members involved in theft or drugs. Throw in a spunky young cast (preferably multiracial), sarcastic Feds, a limp love interest who hates the hero but does everything he asks, and the odd no credibility twist to try and look like there was a writer involved.

For all its predictability, when it works it can be a blast – “Point Break,” “The Transporter” and even the first “The Fast and the Furious” are examples of the genre when it works perfectly. When it doesn’t you get crap like “2 Fast 2 Furious,” “Biker Boyz” and “Torque” albeit the first two at least tried to have stories.

“Torque” is a commercial pure and simple – all flashy visuals, cheap looking CG effects, impossible stunts, wild visuals and absolutely no depth whatsoever so those looking for a decent action movie can forget it. That leaves one other way to look at this movie – from a camp comedy aspect and from that perspective its slow to start but does get so stupid that one can’t help but smile every now and then – its way too dumb and pointless to become a camp classic (ala “Showgirls,” “Anaconda”) but it can’t be dismissed out of hand.

When the two girls of the movie get into a ridiculous motorcycle catfight combined with the most blatant product placement spots ever committed to film – I defy you not to shake your head smiling at how silly this whole film is (although its a very tedious exercise to stay focussed up that point admittedly).

The cast whether it be a pumped up Martin Henderson looking grim in the tightest t-shirts ever made, gothed up Jamie Pressly acting slutty with a switchblade, Ice Cube grumbling as usual, all the other chicks in the movie in tiny tops acting slutty, Will Yun Lee & Jay Hernandez as the hero’s best friends who pretty obviously would prefer getting each other between their legs than their bikes, or what have to be the two worst written FBI agent roles ever – all of them seem to be having a blast.

Scenes shift and change and some of them are cool – a brawl at a rock concert, a chase in a palm tree forest and over/through a train, the aforementioned cat fight, and the hero/villain video game showdown racing through LA’s streets.

Does that mean it’s a decent film? Hell no. Script, Directing, Cinematography (complete with severe blurring and heavy saturation), Visual Effects, Editing, Score – you’d be hard pressed to find a film this year that would be as uniformly awful in all categories – and at 80 minutes, there’s absolutely no way this is worth a video rental price let alone a cinema ticket.

Yet when films get this bad, something like “Torque” which can be laughed at for its stupidity is slightly preferable to something which takes itself too seriously and still fails as hard (ala “Biker Boyz”). There’s no point slamming it because it knows its so bad and doesn’t care – yet its not the crap classic it wants to be sadly – sadly its stuck somewhere in neutral.