ninth symphony films - movie reviews

TORQUE (2004)

DIRECTOR  -  joseph kahn

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  action

LENGTH  -  81 minutes

RELEASED  -  16 january 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  torque

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $40,000,000
torque - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from torque at

buy the dvd from torque at

biker cary ford is framed by and old rival and biker gang leader for the murder of another gang member.


poster from torque
buy the poster

warner bros. had been aiming to get the film into theaters as soon as six months after the start of filming.


picture from torque

picture from torque

picture from torque


zero out of four possible stars

The wild success of 2001's The Fast and the Furious has ensured the speedy delivery of several racing-themed films over the succeeding years. The Furious sequel, though not as creative in its delivery as its predecessor, was still a respectable "action" movie. When filmmakers ventured into the world of motorbike racing though, something went horribly wrong in the journey from script to screen. 2003's Biker Boyz was truly one of the lamest action movies created in years, though Torque, dealing with the same California sub-culture will definitely take away Boyz's crown of "Worst Movie Made Dealing With Automotive Parts and Scantily Clad Women."

Beyond the unbelievable insanity of many of its bike stunts, the film paints quite a nasty picture of women bikers. In an attempt to create a more "gender equal" environment, the filmmakers have unwittingly turned the film into a masochistic assault on the female gender. They have assumed that women who "pick up the sword," so to speak, must have picked up each of the most despicable habits of the male gender with their "manly" line of work. Just witness the use of the word, "bitch," between female characters. But yet, in their zeal to emulate the male gender, the women have kept the tight leather and midriff baring costumes required of female action movie participants.

Sometimes computer generated enhancements can add a dose of excitement and reality to a film, but there are a few instances in this film in which the CGI takes over the film completely and forces the viewer far beyond what could be considered "believable." Instead of showing the viewer an up-close look at the feel of racing at speeds over 100 mph, the special effects make the film look more like a cartoon than a live action film. Which, if the movie had been designed to include the fantastical or had been based on a comic book, the improbable sequences would have been easier to digest.

Although the CGI sequences and cinematography are well-done, this film is just a perfect example of the effects going beyond the overpowering of the characters. It's not just that the action sequences are more impressive than the performances, it's that they go far beyond what is needed for the story. The gritty nature of the story could have inspired a basic, unromantic picture concerning the characters and that simpler approach might have brought some realism into the whole affair. But the filmmakers were much more concerned with keeping the same edge of a five or six minute MTV music video.

Sometimes a film's less than stellar script can be "fixed" by performers who can make the dialogue palatable and add an element of justification, but to call the performances "wooden" would be to high a compliment to the performers. It might be rather harsh to proclaim the cast fully lacking in talent (Martin Hendersonís performance in The Ring was infinitely better as was Jay Hernandezís in Crazy/Beautiful), but perhaps the actors chosen just weren't able to rise above the hilarious script. Not every actor is able to turn nasty writing good.

The level of intelligence displayed in this film regarding all aspects of production (acting, special effects, and the hilariously constructed script) speaks so lowly of its creators and cast. After displaying a hefty zeal in finding a project dealing with the subject of racing, Ice Cube has unfortunately chosen quite a stinker of a film in which to dig his claws. And that is unfortunate, because his performance is probably the only slightly redeemable aspect of the film. Working through the laughable dialogue, Cube's performance has an element of believability about it that the rest of the cast's performances are entirely without.

If you're interested in a hilarious comedic outing by a cast whose talent is entirely absent on screen, Torque will be quite an entertaining experience for you. But if you're interested in a more realistic approach to this sub-genre, the original Fast and Furious is much more exciting ride. It's amazing the decline in quality each film to come out of the creative minds who were the genesis of the current racing movie trend (the Furious folks produced this film). Is there any lower level of filmmaking to be had after the hilarity of Torque?

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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