Driven


Directed by: Renny Harlin
Written by:Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue, Burt Reynolds, Stacy Edwards, Gin Gershon, Estella Warren, Til Schweiger, Robert Sean Leonard
Released: August 16, 2001
Grade: B-

It’s the unpredictability of sport that makes it so appealing.  Sport’s most memorable moments are usually hard fought battles between two fierce competitors with one finally feeling the emotion of triumph.  Driven has been penned by Sylvester Stallone and his screenplay tries to exude that feeling from the viewer but it tries a little hard to evoke that passion.

Bursting onto the scene with several early season wins, Jimmy Bly (Pardue) is the year’s hottest rookie indy car driver.  Three-time defending champion Beau Brandenburg (Schweiger) is feeling the heat with Jimmy drawing level on the championship table with only a handful of races to run.  However, Jimmy’s also feeling the pressure that comes with overnight fame.  Media commitments, advertising endorsements and meetings with management are too much for a young innocent kid to handle and his results on the track start slipping.

Team manager Carl Henry (Reynolds) doesn’t want this kid to crack and calls in old friend and ex-racing driver Joe Tanto (Stallone) to help him.  Tanto was once a young racing prodigy but he faded away when other commitments became more important.  Can Joe get Jimmy back on track or will he wind up as a burnt-out star like himself?

Indy car fans will be let down by Driven as it’s aimed at an audience with little prior knowledge.  With current safety levels, some of the extravagant crash scenes seem unbelievable.  I was also frustrated by the racing commentary which unnecessarily explains every minor detail of the sport.

Like the racing, the film is fast and doesn’t drag itself out.  There’s a ripper soundtrack and whilst some of the camerawork is a little confusing, I did get an adrenaline rush out of watching these cars travel at high speed.  Lucky there were no speed cameras on the way home from the theatre.

I wasn’t “driven” to boredom but I certainly wasn’t brimming with enthusiasm walking out of this flick.  Usually sports movies have more of an effect so I guess indy cars just aren’t my thing.

Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds are better than average but most attention will be addressed towards newcomer Kip Pardue who’s only other significant role to date was as the hippy quarterback in Remember The Titans.  In the past, Stallone was a drawcard that could get audiences to flock to the cinema but Driven acts like a changing of the guard with Pardue in the beginnings of a similarly fruitful career.  There was one line though that particularly struck me - “Everyone falls down, it’s just how fast you get up.”  Well Sylvester, let’s see how long it takes.