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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Retro Review: Torque (2004)

Cast: Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Jaime Pressly, Will Yun Lee, Jay Hernandez, Adam Scott, Max Beesley, Christina Millian
Genre: Racing Action 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $46 million

Plot: A biker is framed by an old rival and biker gang leader for the murder of another biker gang member, who happens to be the brother of Trey, the leader of the most feared biker gang

'All Torque, Little Substance'

Mindless motorcycle film that is the two-wheeled equivalent to The Fast & The Furious series, with a glossy- looking aesthetic akin to Esquire magazine and added biker chicks and male testosterone for good measure, Torque is as predictable, pedestrian and also ridiculous as it can get. Unlike Biker Boys, however, this one does make an effort in having a plot, although the way this is executed doesn't rock one's world, nor it is it as exhilarating as one comes to expect.

Carey Ford is accused of stealing a rival's superbikes before fleeing to Thailand. When he returns, Carey is framed for the murder of gang leader, Trey's brother, as well as his flame/girlfriend, is ticked off with him for disappearing without telling her, coupled with a pair of FBI agents who are also on his trail, so to speak. 

Torque is the feature film debut of Joseph Kahn, mostly renowned for directing pop music videos for the likes of the Backstreet Boys and here, he makes it loud, brash, trashy, fast and dumb. The dialogue and script isn't necessarily a strong point, but neither does most of the garbled dialogue bode very well for the film in general. That and the story and the development, or be it lack of development of characters all take a back seat to the motorcycle action sequences, most of which are reliant on CGI to give it that extra boost. The chase sequences, as nice looking as they are, aren't that convincing. But at least what I give credit to this film for is it knows it isn't anything particularly noteworthy to speak of, that it has a trash-like quality to it and plays it as dumb and silly. 

This is a hybrid of The Fast & The Furious with Biker Boys with some over the top and wacky scenes that are so nonsensical, but are kind of watchable: the motorcycle pursuit on the train tracks with a speeding train, the silly and ashamedly nuts girl fight on motorbikes in front of two mountain Dew and Pepsi advertising boards. They are so far-fetched and yet are for me, the most entertaining scenes out of the whole movie. It also looks as if Kahn has taken a cue from XXX, the Vin Diesel movie in the extreme action-B-movie sense. 

The performances, ranging from the lead Martin Henderson, rapper Ice Cube, Max Beesley, Jaime Pressly to Matt Schulze as villain Henry James are largely unimpressive. Although Ice Cube manages to pull off the hard man role with ease. Matt Schulze bears a uncanny resemblance to one Chris Hemsworth of The Avengers somewhat. But the bland story and poorly written script have so much to do with that and the film intentionally and deliberately sets itself out to be as disposable as it could be and is & knows that it is done very well, in that respect. Yet people will ask should Joseph Kahn and the writers made more of an effort in making Torque less crappy and throw away? Perhaps so. 

Final Verdict: 

Torque is a B-movie and whilst there is no doubt it is visually impressive looking, it relies too much on the CGI visuals and characterisation is definitely moot and nonexistent. Motorbikes and motorcycles are cool-looking, sleek- looking modes of transport, no doubt about that for me, but for them and the races, it's just not quite enough to make an overly decent movie on them and the culture it seeks to project onscreen. 

It needs an impressive story, a cast of characters and actors who you truly buy into their roles, an engaging story, not just a set of two wheels and chase sequences. 

A tad better than Biker Boys and that is by a slight margin, Torque is still relatively poor. Yet as it knows it is isn't all that great and plays around with the tropes that are found in Biker Boys and the Fast & The Furious movies, I suppose I can't knock this one too much. 


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