By Kevin Carr | January 17, 2004

Let’s start off by admitting that “Torque” is not going to win an Academy Award – for anything. Not for acting, writing, directing, or even for special effects. (After all, why else would it be released in the middle of January – the bottom of the barrel for Hollywood movies?) “Torque” is a truly horrible movie in all respects of the word.

However, when the filmmakers made “Torque,” I don’t think they were out to make anything significant – or even of quality. They were making an action film. The plot, characters, story and dialogue were all secondary – or lower.

With this in mind, “Torque” really wasn’t that bad. In fact, with this in mind, “Torque” was actually pretty good. Lord knows, I’ve sat through a lot worse. At least “Torque” didn’t seem that long. Granted, the flick was just a shade over 80 minutes (a running time usually reserved for kids cartoons), but it did fly by.

The story is pretty simple (as if you couldn’t guess). Biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson) has returned to Southern California after several months in Thailand after his girlfriend Shane (Monet Mazur) had her shop busted by the FBI. This was because Ford had a couple bikes belonging to rival biker Henry (Matt Schulze) that happened to be filled with crystal meth.

Not too long after Ford is back, he bumps head with another rival biker Trey Wallace (Ice Cube). Henry tries to get back at Ford by murdering Trey’s brother and pinning it on Ford. When a state-wide manhunt for Ford erupts, he must try to clear his name.

That’s about it. There’s probably only 15 minutes of dialogue in the entire film, and most of it is thrown out during a blatant expository “Bloodhound Gang” sequence in which Ford lays out his plan for proving that Henry is the murderer.

Well, what do you expect when half the words were written for Ice Cube to say through a sneer?

Monet Mazur is pretty easy on the eyes in this film, especially in her short shorts in her intro scene. However, she is also pretty gaunt, which makes her hard to photograph. Her face isn’t necessarily built for close-ups unless you’ve got a team of Guess make-up artists to even out the lines in your face.

Now, if you think I’m a pig because I’m basing the worth of a movie like “Torque” on physical features of the actors, you need to realize what type of movie this is. “Torque” is nothing more than an old-school racing flick made with hopped up special effects and filmmaking techniques. It is the type of flick that filled the B and C lists of drive in movies from the 1950s through the 1970s. It is the type of movie that was routinely skewered by Joel and the Bots on “Mystery-Science Theater 3000” – like “Sidehackers,” “Hellcats” and “Wild Rebels.” So, the only things this movie has going for it is the action and the sexy stars.

Now, back to how the actors look on screen… Jaime Pressly. I happen to be a huge Jaime Pressly fan, and not necessarily for her acting ability. In “Torque,” she steps into a very different mode as Henry’s Goth girlfriend. She’s got jet-black hair, wears a skimpy leather costume throughout the movie and is inked up with spider webs along her back and on her arms. If you are a Jaime Pressly fan and have a bit of a Goth fetish, then this is a must see film for you.

The ladies in the audience will not go without some eye candy either. Star Martin Henderson, while completely useless as an actor and a leading man (which matches him perfectly with Monet Mazur) is a good looking guy. He has a decent body, but my sister (who saw the film with me) is quick to point out that he has no butt. So, if you like chests, he fits the bill. If you’re a butt gal, you’re out of luck.

The action in “Torque” was impressive. It is clear that director Joseph Kahn cut his teeth on music videos, considering this film is nothing more than an extended music video itself. Kahn comes from the Michael Bay/McG school of flashy screen imagery and no substance. In fact, if Kahn’s style is any indication of the upcoming vision for films, we’re in for a sorry era in American cinema. Fortunately, his contemporaries (like Bay and McG) are having trouble sustaining meaningful directing careers.

Of course, the action got silly at times – like a 200 mph motorcycle chase through the crowded streets of L.A., in which the characters are spinning around on their bikes to shoot at each other. There’s always a certain suspension of disbelief needed in movies like this, but a total disregard for disbelief is a little much.

I didn’t hate “Torque,” and I guess that goes to say some things for the film. At the very least, it kept me entertained.

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