Stallone returns as writer, actor, producer of “Driven,” a fast-paced, hi-octane, sports, action flick with adrenaline-pumping racing and high drama! Or at least, that must have been the original intention. The result is an incredible craptacular finish. And with Stallone wearing three key hats on this production, it makes it a heck of a lot easier to place blame for this abysmal mess.
The story focuses on young hotshot Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue), an up and comer on the racing circuit who finds himself in direct competition with defending champion Beau Brandendberg (Til Schweiger). Beau is an arrogant a*s and Jimmy beats him in three straight races. But Beau makes a comeback and handily beats Jimmy in the latest race. And we know all of this because the racing announcer also serves to explain every single plot detail and character motivation on the loudspeaker. It’s kind of ridiculous when the announcer “observes” when Beau passes Jimmy, “It seems that Bly has lost his confidence.” Okay. Thanks for pointing that out. Complications arise when Beau’s girlfriend Sophia (Estella Warren) is dumped. Sophia instantly takes a liking to Jimmy and the two become attached in a plot twist one could see coming from 3,000 miles away.
Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) is the seasoned car owner who has invested a lot in this young driver and realizes Jimmy is in need of some major guidance. Enter Stallone as washed up former racing pro Joe Tanto. He owes Carl some favors from way back in the 1970s (we can tell this from the cheesy photo of Burt and Sly together). Tanto might just be the guy who can help Jimmy take control of his abilities and turn the immature hothead into the champion we all know he’ll be at the predicatable end.
Where to begin with the troubles with this film, there are so many, so here’s a short list: ^ 1) The first is how strange and creepy Reynolds and Stallone look. They both sport an orange glowing tan with faces that have either too much make up or have had too much surgery or both. It’s kind of sad. They are both doing everything they can to hide their age but guys, we all know how old you are. Just give it up. ^ 2) The aforementioned racing announcer explaining the plot. Downright dumb. And, don’t forget, Stallone is the writer who was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for “Rocky.” ^ 3) A ridiculous sequence in which Bly and Beau stop to save another racer who has just crashed his car. Laughably unrealistic. ^ 4) Another hilariously unrealistic sequence in which Stallone chases Bly, who is in the midst of a jealous rage, through the streets of Chicago – with their race cars! ^ 5) Yet another unrealistic laughfest in which Stallone’s character runs over quarters on a track which melt into his vehicle’s tires. Yeah, right. ^ 6) The final unrealistically funny scene is when Bly proves he can drive his car with a nearly broken foot by getting out of the vehicle in less than five seconds. ^ 7) Gina Gershon as Stallone’s ex-wife in an unintentionally funny role that has her throwing cruel one-liners at Sly like a professional bitch. ^ 8) Crappy computer graphics that make certain racing sequences of the film look like a PlayStation video game instead of an actual race. ^ 9) The script must only have about 30 pages since most of the story is told in montage, or racing scenes cut like a music video to the recent crop of forgettable pop songs or extra footage from the crowds gathered to see a real race which leads to… ^ 10) The introductory sequences for each race include footage of fans and events surrounding real races across the country in Chicago, Japan, Detroit, Germany and other exotic locales. We see a mish-mash of images of fans, people eating hotdogs, posing for photos, working on cars, hot female fans with big boobs, the Valvoline girls, and on and on. It seems the filmmakers were so in love with all this extra b-roll footage shot in documentary style by a second unit crew that they crammed in as much as they could. It is overused to the point of tedium. Or perhaps it’s simply an excuse to show girls with large breasts on screen and you can hardly complain about that.
All in all, the only thing you’re guaranteed to get out of “Driven” is a lighter wallet, a few unintentional laughs and a splitting headache.