In the amusingly simple-minded and playfully over-the-top Torque, Martin Henderson plays Cary Ford, a biker who returns home after spending a year on the lamb having been set up on phony drug charges by local kingpin Henry (a steely-eyed Matt Schulze). Now he finds himself set up yet again by Henry and subsequently hunted by the F.B.I. and another rival gang leader, the sneering Trey (Ice Cube). Though it could very easily be summed up as “The Fast and the Furious with motorcycles,” Torque is a clone endowed with a pleasant self-awareness, even taking the time to poke fun at its progenitor. When one of the characters references The Fast and the Furious by saying, “I live my life a quarter mile at a time,” someone responds, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” It is this playful side to Torque, its refusal to take itself too seriously, or at least its ability to acknowledge its utter silliness, that gives the film a surprisingly endearing charm. Director Joseph Kahn indulges in spectacle that is almost liberatingly farcical. A montage of heaving breasts, soapy water and polished chrome signals Ford and his crew’s arrival at a biker festival, and the comic-bookishly intense levels of speed that Ford and Henry achieve during the film’s final motorcycle showdown seems to suck the color out of the frame and leave a sepia haze in its wake. Henderson is like a leather-clad Huck Finn, and he has this sheepish, understated, sleepy-eyed quality as an action “star” that works to undercut any sense of macho posturing. While he seemed vaguely out of place in his turn as a distant ex-boyfriend in Gore Verbinski’s The Ring, Henderson is spot-on in Torque‘s half-serious universe. The rest of the cast is pleasingly one-dimensional and harmless, with the noticeable exception of Adam Scott as F.B.I. agent McPherson, surely an example of both character and actor so infused with their own smug snideness that both are unwatchable. As a whole, however, Torque is inoffensively diverting, neither a work of inspired genre genius or mere manipulative commercial trash. Well, to be honest, it is trash, but fun trash nonetheless.
- Warner Bros.
- 84 min
- Joseph Kahn
- Matt Johnson
- Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Matt Schulze, Monet Mazir, Jay Hernandez, Dane Cook, Fredero Starr
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: