by Eric D. Snider
Released: April 13, 2007
Do you love cars? I mean, do you love them so much that you could watch 95 minutes of footage of cars driving fast and occasionally colliding with things? Really? You could? Huh. Well, I guess you should go see "Redline," then, because it has a lot of very expensive automobiles being driven at high rates of speed, and you could watch it with the sound off and the plot wouldn't make any less sense than it does with it on.
Conceived, produced, and bankrolled by millionaire real estate mogul Daniel Sadek as a vanity project for his girlfriend, "Redline" is approximately as good as you would expect a movie to be when it was conceived, produced, and bankrolled by a millionaire real estate mogul as a vanity project for his girlfriend. It's the same movie, more or less, as "The Fast and the Furious," yet somehow -- and this is the impressive part -- somehow it is actually shallower.
Sadek's muse is the lovely Nadia Bjorlin. She plays Natasha, a beautiful young woman whose dad was an auto racer before he died. Natasha herself is, in her own words, "the girl next door -- if you live next to a racetrack!" (I don't, so I guess she's "the girl on the other side of town, over by the racetrack.") She runs a repair shop for high-end super-cars, and she likes to race them occasionally, and in her spare time she is the lead singer for a rock group. The band's songs are auto-themed, with lyrics such as these: "You turbo-charge me if you like it fast/'Cause I'm the kind of girl that's built to last."
She gets brought into the world of illegal street-racing through Infamous (Eddie Griffin), a rap producer whose car she repairs. Infamous likes to gamble on these races with a mildly psychotic, vaguely Scottish millionaire named Michael (Angus Macfadyen). Michael's main driver is his nephew, Jason (Jesse Johnson, son of Don Johnson), who does whatever Crazy Uncle Michael tells him. Michael's brother Carlo (Nathan Phillips), a Marine just back from a tour in Iraq, is disappointed to find Jason still involved in the corrupt family business (whatever that "business" is, we aren't really told), and he wants to get them both far away from Uncle Mike. Then, coincidentally, Carlo meets Natasha (remember Natasha?) at a Las Vegas nightclub and falls in love with her. Unfortunately, Michael meets her, too, and is just as smitten -- only Michael is obsessive and unstable, which makes his desire for her a bit more dangerous.
That may sound like an awful lot of plot for a movie that's supposed to be all about cars, and it is. Yet director Andy Cheng and screenwriter Robert Foreman (using Sadek's story outline) still manage to give the unwieldy story the short shrift and pay the most attention to fistfights, car racing, and scantily clad women being jiggly. Carlo gets into a fistfight the minute he gets off the Greyhound and engages in at least four more over the course of the movie; cars race constantly through the streets and occasionally on official racetracks; and wherever possible, women don't wear much clothing. One scene has guys sitting around a table playing poker while all around them are women in bikinis. Why bikinis when they're indoors? Why not! Elsewhere, there's a shot of nearly nude girls washing a car and getting into a giggly soap fight -- a shot that has no connection whatsoever to the shots before or after it. It could have been inserted anywhere in the film and made just as much sense.
Much of the racing takes place on the streets, with hapless bystander cars being smashed without regard for the innocent drivers' safety. There's an impromptu race on the Las Vegas Strip, with Jason and another driver exceeding 80 mph -- never mind that the Las Vegas Strip is seldom uncrowded enough to go more than about 40. The big race in the finale brings in several drivers, including one -- not previously seen, named, or referred to -- who we're told "killed" Natasha's dad in that fateful auto race all those years ago. This is a laughable attempt to bring unneeded drama into the story, especially considering we'd assumed Nat's dad's death was an accident all this time. (Dudes, you have to set these things up! If you want Natasha to get revenge on the guy who killed her dad, you first have to TELL US that her dad had a killer!)
Oh, and this one time, Michael kidnaps Natasha and keeps her in his L.A. mansion, and she escapes because Carlo gets some guns and explosives from a character we've never seen before but who is apparently Carlo's buddy, and Carlo uses the weapons to bust Natasha out.
Oh, and another time, Infamous is flying his private plane somewhere with his entourage of hos, and one of them gets jealous over his flirting with Natasha and demands that the plane "pull over" so she can get off, so the plane lands in the Nevada desert and she disembarks and walks along a two-lane highway hitchhiking.
With wooden acting, flat dialogue, and ludicrous plotting, the film might be enjoyably bad if it weren't for one thing: It's also boring. It's tedious to watch all the interpersonal stuff, and even the racing gets old after a while. It's your money, Daniel Sadek, but really: Shouldn't you have outsourced this job to some professionals?
Rated PG-13, scattered profanity, a lot of fistfight violence, plenty of jiggly girls and innuendo
1 hr., 33 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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