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Directed by Renny Harlin.
Written by Sylvester Stallone. 
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds and Kip Pardue.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  4/23/01 


Sometimes, even free sucks.

Tricia "Hot" Ocampo once again scored some freebies, and this time it was for the new Sly Stallone F1 film "Driven."  My brother Dave and I both thought that the trailer for this movie looked pretty good, so we--along with my two roommates Keith and the Chuckwagon--rolled over to the Pentagon City 6 to check it out.

And, even though we had free passes to this thing, we all had to admit afterwards that this movie was a piece of shit.

It's a weird thing, seeing a bad movie, you know?  You spend a good portion of your two hours laughing hysterically at the bad acting, the ridiculous plot twists, and the convoluted storyline.  You yell out actions that characters will take three, four, even five seconds before the characters actually do them, because you have seen a couple of movies before and the foreshadowing is so obvious that any adult over the age of 21 can see them coming.  You shake your head in disgust as talented actors say lines so silly you can almost see them breaking part to laugh at themselves for appearing in a movie so poor.

"Driven" does all of these things, and more.  Stallone--who wrote the screenplay for this film and should go ahead and consider retirement at the age of 54--stars as has-been driver Joe Tanto, who must play mentor for a driver named Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue, the quarterback from "Remember the Titans") for the second half of the F1 season to help Bly win the World Championship.  Managed by a wheelchair-bound veteran boss (Burt Reynolds, desperately seeking cash), Tanto somehow must overcome his tainted past to teach Bly the skills needed to win on the tough F1 circuit.

Or something.  Here's what I do remember happening during this film that was good:

A) The soundtrack.  Composed by electronica guru BT, the soundtrack is bad-ass.  Much like the soundtrack for "Any Given Sunday", the tracks that BT puts together here always seem to match the situation perfectly, and he throws almost every genre of music into the film to mostly grand effect.  And, as I always say, any soundtrack that has The Crystal Method on it is golden, and "Driven" has at least that going for it.

B) Hilarious, gratuitous shots of women wearing close to nothing eating hilariously gratuitous phallic objects.  Director Renny Harlin ("The Adventures of Ford Fairlane"--the Andrew Dice Clay star vehicle--"The Long Kiss Goodnight", "Die Hard 2: Die Harder", "Deep Blue Sea") is quite possibly the king of shameless T&A shots and bloody, overdone violence, and he does not disappoint here as he slips in more oral imagery for this PG-13 film than any other PG-13er in history.  Both sexes seemed to get a kick out of these shots during our preview screening tonight, because they were so blatantly obvious.  Yes, this is wrong, but man, does it make for funny audience reactions.

Other than that, this movie blows.  It seems to have no idea what to do in-between its admittedly-cool race footage, and that made for a LOT of groaning about the acting from folks in the crowd.  Stallone's Tanto falls for a reporter than is, by far, the ugliest woman in the film, and this seems to make no sense given that his ex-wife is played by super sexpot Gina Gershon.  (Gershon's opening shot--also used in the film's trailer--seemed to have men in my audience leaning in the aisles to check out that figure. Gershon is sadly underappreciated.  And speaking of hot, gents, have you seen Halle Berry getting down in that "Swordfish" preview?  Goodness!!)

There are only two drivers of note in the film besides Tanto, which is strange given that they are always racing about 30 other drivers, only two or three of which are given names.  Holes in the plot abound:  How does Bly have a shot at the World Championship if he has only finished about 8 of the 20 races for the season?  Bly's rival dumps his wife at the beginning of the the estranged wife starts sleeping with Bly...then the wife goes back to the rival...then Bly seems to be really happy that the wife is back with the rival???  Bullshit.  Bly and Tanto's manager decides near the end of the film that he wants to terminate Bly's contract; this is strange, given that Bly and his rival Beau are the only two drivers that have won any of the 20 races all season.  And, on and on.

If you like watching girls in tank tops eat hot dogs to hardcore house music, see this film when it opens on Friday.  If you don't, stay regular and doowhatchalike--skip this movie!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09