When a young hotshot racecar driver loses his winning edge, a semi-retired racing champ is called in to help get him back on track.
Kip Pardue is rookie CART driver Jimmy Bly, a talented kid with all the right moves behind the wheel. After a string of victories puts him in the spotlight, the constant pressure to win starts affecting his focus, and arch rival Beau Brandenburg (Til Schweiger) pulls ahead in the rankings. In desperation, Bly's team owner (Burt Reynolds) calls upon former racing star Joe Tanto (Sylvester Stallone), who faded to semi-retired infamy after a dubious accident ended his career, to help guide the youngster. Meanwhile, those darn personal issues keep getting in the way--Bly's friendship with Brandenburg's girlfriend (Estella Warren) and Tanto's damaged past.
This is a car racing film, 'K? Nobody's watching for Oscar-winning performances. Go in knowing that, and you won't be let down. A mellow, matured Stallone is well cast as an aging, has-been driver who's still got attitude but has his demons to battle; it doesn't require too much of a stretch. Though he shows a hint of promise, an awkward Pardue has a way to go. Schweiger had less of a character arc, but somehow draws more sympathy and you find yourself rooting for him over the weepy, self-absorbed Bly. Warren, a low-rent Kate Winslet, is unconvincing as the chief distraction for these top drivers. Glittery-eyed Reynolds is pleasingly over-the-top. But watch for Gina Gershon as Tanto's catty ex-wife to steal the show with the movie's best lines.
This is a car racing film, 'K? Nobody's watching for Oscar-winning direction. Go in knowing that, and you won't be let down. Director Renny Harlin seemed to be aping Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer films with his slow-mo shots, larger-than-life special effects and testosterone-driven story lines. If you know nothing about car racing, you'll enjoy the high-energy race scenes that require some suspension of disbelief (wrecked tires that fly as high as birds, cars that literally leap into first place, an impromptu race through downtown Tokyo streets). It's the sappy stories that make this film feel like you're going 35 in an 80 mph zone. A fight scene between Bly and Brandenburg in a club is so squirm-in-your-seat bad you're embarrassed for the actors.
A cheesy, easy flick that you can leave for a pit stop of your own and still know what's going on when you come back.