Torque review

"I live my life a quarter-mile at a time," blurts biker-boy Martin Henderson, referencing producer Neal H Moritz's earlier hit The Fast And The Furious. "That," retorts anodyne sass-machine Monet Mazur, "is the dumbest thing I ever heard." This strained exchange is the closest motor-wank actioner Torque ever comes to being as tongue-in-cheek as a) it thinks it is; and b) it needs to be to elevate it from piece-of-shit to guilty-pleasure status.

Ignoring that petty irritation we call `plot', director Joseph Kahn (a debutant with a background in music videos - who'd have thunk it?) whirs together an overgreased chain of OTT set-pieces that are so try-hard outrageous they implode. One sees a pair of chase-scene crotch-rockets jumping onto, then along the top of, then through a bullet train. (Impressive? Not when it's a sloppy CG concoction rather than an old-school stunt spectacle.) Another involves the use of the legendary `Y2K' motorcycle, so Tarmac-searing it requires sub-Matrix Reloaded FX and screechy sound-design to convey its pant-browning velocity. (Sped-up Benny Hill music would have been more appropriate.)

In terms of character, meanwhile, Torque is as arid and featureless as the Californian desert in which most of it is shot. As a drug-dealing biker type, a tubby, leather-stretching Ice Cube curls his lip so much he ends up looking like a vexed rabbit. Then there's the Kurt Russell-lite Henderson, as a heroic biker type who heroically rides bikes, heroically fights and heroically snogs Mazur like he's wolfing a Cornetto.

Elsewhere we find Adam Scott as sarky G-man McPherson, looking more like a mincing Fame Academy contestant than an FBI goon. And then there's boo-yawn baddie Henry (Matt Schulze from The Fast And The Furious), a Hell's Angel - sorry, `Hellion' - who's more mullet than man and has a gamine, tattooed wenchfriend (Jaime Pressly) who responds to his every act of brutality with a porny shudder and a lick of her pierced lips.

Through a pair of Friday-night beer goggles, Torque might just - just - look like a good laugh. In the cold, harsh light of sobriety, however, its true form is revealed: that of a C-movie labouring under the blundering misapprehension that it's really a B-movie.

Motorbikes! Men! Guns! Women! Engines! Chases! Crashes! More motorbikes! Nu-metal! Bad CGI! Stop this film now, we feel sick...

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