April 19, 2007

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Redline (PG-13)
Vrooooooooom, SMASH!, booosh, crackle-crackle-crackle (or whatever sound a race car makes when it burns) — and there you have the onomatopoeiac plot of Redline.

Fun fact: when doing a little Internet research on the cast of Redline, I found out that that Redline was the working title of The Fast and the Furious (according to Internet Movie Database and Yahoo! Movies). Now, I’m not saying that the pitch for making this movie was “Redline was the working title of The Fast and the Furious and it’s also about cars; this movie is going to totally rule!” but it wouldn’t surprise me. This is definitely a movie where concept (“fast cars and hot chicks are awesome”) came first and story, dialogue and acting came, well, never.

Natasha (Nadia Bjorlin) runs a garage specializing in supeing up sport cars so they can leave anything traveling 200 miles per hour in the dust. And yet, though she’s “born to race” she won’t because she watched her father die horribly when he crashed during a competition. Infamous (Eddie Griffin) is a record producer who’d like to convince Natasha to drive his sports car in an upcoming race on which he’ll likely bet millions. Meanwhile Michael (Angus Macfayden), a New-Age-folderol-spouting lunatic counterfeiter, is counting on his nephew Jason (Jesse Johnson) to win the race for him, much to the dismay of Carlo (Nathan Philips), Jason’s disapproving big brother who is recently home from the war.

Take out the race footage and the non sequitur shots of extremely shiny girls who seem to pack like baby-oil-covered sardines into just about every camera frame, and this movie would be three minutes long (at most). That’s about the amount of time spent on “plot development.” The rest of the movie is about shiny cars going fast, shiny girls, shiny girls leaning on shiny cars, shiny cars exploding into shiny flames and shiny cars or girls being paid for with wads of money. Oh, and occasionally, some fighting.

The “acting” in this movie is astoundingly bad — porn bad. In fact, I searched a few of the actors’ bios to see if any obvious porn was among their credits. It wasn’t — but the middle-distance stares and the halting, reading-from-cue-cards delivery suggest that theirs isn’t a craft honed at summer stock and Off-Broadway plays. (I suppose direct-to-video movies and soap operas can teach the same “stand there and look stupid” method of acting.)

What’s most disappointing about Redline — even more than its shocking low-rent-ness — is how little fun it is. I’d expect something this bad to be more entertaining, to create excitement from its fast cars and high camp. Instead, we get occasional laughs but not nearly enough to justify the other 90 minutes of awfulness. F

Rated PG-13 for violence, illegal and reckless behavior, sexual content, language and drug references. Directed by Andy Cheng and written by Robert Foreman and Daniel Sadek, Redline is an hour and 35 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Chicago Releasing.