250 miles per hour, 20 races, 1 champion
Review by Ross Anthony

At the age of ten - I would have loved this film. 'Would have spent the better part of the next day talking about it with all my friends at lunch or recess, or even risking a few "citizenship points" during class. I would have fantasized being one of these cool race drivers, blasting my nimble Indy car across the local streets in my hometown.

Stallone (writer/producer/actor) and Harlen (director/producer) have put together a pseudo video game, bringing four of these helmeted, uniformed drivers to 2-D life; and adding a teen soap plot to boot.

The action is good, despite obvious computer assistance; these sleek cars round the track with a vengeance, then more than occasionally crash and burn into walls, into other cars, into the air. Though real the competitions last longer than this film, the race sequences in "Driven" are aggressively cut - tight and inside - not a boring second behind the wheel.

Apparently aware of their lay/young audience, these race announcers explain key elements of the event down to the fact that pit stops should be done pretty darned fast. That's good for way younger viewers, a bit tedious (sometimes laughable) to the more mature or knowledgeable watcher.

If Pardue, the inconsistent baby-faced rookie can just calm down and discover himself off track, he'll no doubt steal the championship from German favorite Schweiger. Heck, he promptly manages to turn the head of Estelle Warren, Schweiger's girlfriend.

With tough owner Burt Reynolds calling the shots over the 2-way radio, "Don't look for a hole, make one!" and "woulda-coulda-shoulda-been" racer Sly Stallone coming out of retirement to help Pardue focus, these hearty "friends of speed" search for inner peace, romance and the checkered flag. Sound Schmaltzy? You bet.

PS: There ought to be a steeper penalty than 25 grand for doing 195 in downtown Chicago. (That scene was filmed in Toronto, btw.)

Production Notes Tidbit:
Stallone remarks, "Just holding the wheel is physically straining enough. After an hour or so of driving against those g-forces, your forearms are so weak, you can barely hold them up. Your legs are tired from constantly working the clutch, the gas and the brake and there are blisters on your hands from holding the wheel. To top it off you're constantly sweating, you lose a lot of water and are always fighting dehydration."

  • Driven. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Kip Pardue, Gina Gershon, Robert Sean Leonard, Stacy edwards, Estella Warren, Til Schweiger.
  • Directed by Renny Harlin.
  • Written by Sylvester Stallone.
  • Produced by Sylvester Stallone, Renny Harlin, Elie Samaha at Warner Bros/Franchise.

Adult Grade.......................... B
Kid Grade............................ A

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:13:30 PDT