Torque (2004)

january 19, 2004

Go into Torque not expecting much and you will walk out with a silly grin on your face -- and be rather entertained by this mindless fluff that was released a few months short of summer. Go into Torque expecting anything other than a mindless action flick and you will walk out rather disappointed and may even demand a refund. Neal H. Moritz is quickly becoming this decade's Jerry Bruckheimer. Like Bruckheimer in his day, Moritz is producing slick action flicks that are highly polished and wildly silly. Torque does not stray far from Moritz�s other action productions (The Fast and The Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, XXX, and SWAT), it is very slick in its production, highly polished, exciting and exploitive. Much like Bruckheimer, Moritz also produces non-action films that are quite entertaining also (Sweet Home Alabama, Out of Time). Torque is much more like 2 Fast 2 Furious than its younger brother, The Fast and The Furious. The Fast and The Furious was a very real looking film with much of the stunt work shot live and had tension and excitement. 2 Fast 2 Furious was a lot of computer-generated stunts that had a huge feeling of fakeness and not much tension. Torque is a little of each. There is a lot of computer-generated stuff, like the end chase, which feel cheesy and boring. But, there is also some live stuff that live up to the excitement. Also, I must say that some of the computer-generated stuff is quite exciting also � the opening sequence is heart pounding. I had never heard of director Joseph Kahn and for good reason, this is his first feature film. Up until now he had been working as a music director, and from what it says on IMDb, quite a good music director. Without knowing this, all the marks of a music director gone full feature film director are on screen. The movie is slick as hell with its visuals. There are lots of small things thrown in just for a visual "wow" (look at the moon in the sky when Ford enters the small town). The cuts are fast, quick and sometimes too much. But, somehow Kahn and his editors are able to make it all work -- unlike Michael Bay and his editors. The high point for this film are the visuals and the action, Kahn proves that he can at least do that stuff well. He also knows his limits and keeps the running time down at 81 minutes. There are no big name actors except for Ice Cube, who seems to be constantly growling with his crooked scowl. Martin Henderson plays Ford, the main character of the film. Henderson is a cross between Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. He does OK in the film, though there is not much expected of him except to look good smiling and do a few stunts. This is not Shakespeare folks. Monet Mazur plays his love interest and she seems like a younger Meg Ryan in this film (reminding much of the Meg Ryan in Bruckheimer�s production with Tom Cruise, Top Gun). Matt Schulze is reviving his character from The Transporter, but with longer hair, for the main villain of the film. He does OK, but is nothing special. Now for the bad performances, and how in the hell can one turn in a bad performance in a low-key movie like this is beyond me. Adam Scott is particularly bad as McPherson the FBI agent on Ford's tail. I don't know if it was by Kahn's choice or not, but Scott just stuck out of the cast like a sore thumb. Jaime Pressley turns in an awful performance as China. Well, at least I couldn�t really tell it was she. The story, well there's not much of a story, goes something like this: Nice guy, Ford (Henderson) returns from long exile. He gets framed for a murder. Because of this a gang led by Wallace (Ice Cube) is after him. But, it gets more complicated because Henry (Schulze) is after Ford too for stealing something from him. Of course we can throw in McPherson and his partner from the FBI who are chasing after Ford because he is wanted for drug dealing. Yea, it sounds complicated, but the writer Matt Johnson and director Kahn really don't take it too serious. Kahn mainly uses the story to tie together the action sequences that are for the most part rather satisfying for this action junkie. The dialogue is not the best in the world, but Johnson does come up with some good lines for the actors. There is one reference to The Fast and The Furious that got a big chuckle out of me. The action has to get special mention. There is a lot of it that works, but there is some that just falls flat on its face. The opening sequence shows the technical brilliance of the film's production crew � a mix of CG and live work that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was quite a thrilling opening to the film. Other sequences that are worth mentioning are the train top race, the flying hummer, and some of the minor chases on the streets. Now, there are some things that just do not work. The whole riding a street bike on dirt felt awfully fake. The motorcycle duel between the two ladies was a total joke. And a lot of the end chase, though sometimes exciting, was just too fake to be exciting. It is a good thing that the good sequences out number the bad and make this movie quite entertaining. In the end, you will only enjoy this movie if you are an action fan and can leave the brain at the door. If you expect much more than sparse dialogue, mediocre acting, and great action, then you will be sorely disappointed. The short running time of the film is quite the blessing along with the entertaining action. Go for the action and you will be happy.