Gary Couzens has reviewed the theatrical release of Driven, a poor Sylvester Stallone “vehicle”. For diehard racing fans only.Driven is released in the UK and Ireland today.
It’s halfway through the Formula One season, and Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue) is in with a shot at the championship. But all is not well in the Bly camp, and his manager Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds in a wheelchair) calls in ex-champ Joe Tanto (Sylvester Stallone) to help him out.
A very short review of Driven would substitute the final letter of the title with the one two before it in the alphabet. But that would be lazy of me. Driven is a remarkably poor film that especially suffers in comparison with the far less star-heavy The Fast and the Furious. First culprit, as it usually is, is the script. Stallone takes sole credit (from a story by Jan Skrentny and Neil Tabachnick) so he has to take the blame for one of the most ill-structured pieces of writing to have gone into production recently. Despite what the billing says, and the amount of screen time he gives himself, Joe Tanto isn’t the central character. So the amount of personal baggage that Tanto carries (including an ex-wife in the shape of Gina Gershon) is irrelevant to any plot. It certainly isn’t very interesting. No, the character who has a goal and who we are supposed to root for, is Jimmy Bly in his urge to win the championship. That’s despite his girlfriend going off with rival driver Brandenberg (Til Schweiger), a hair-raising crash and a manager who doesn’t really think he can hack it (hence Reynolds’s big scene). Pardue’s anodyne performance doesn’t help inspire interest or involvement either.
Without much of a plot, Stallone and Harlin fill the two hours with racing sequences in the hope that we won’t notice. Around the halfway mark, they even throw in an absurd road-race through the streets of Tokyo. However, even there the film falls short. The Fast and the Furious (with which Driven has in common a bland, and very loud, techno score from BT) made use of real stunts for the most part, and the excitement was palpable. Driven’s stunt work is mostly CGI, which may look impressive but carries no sense of danger: somehow, the eye is fooled but the brain isn’t.
Ultimately, diehard racing fans may get something out of Driven. For the rest of us, though, the racing scenes become monotonous after a while, and two hours of it is an endurance test. Drivel indeed.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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