CHAMPCAR/CART: Review of movie "Driven"

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com The highly anticipated film "Driven", starring Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds, opens around the country on Friday, April 27. The film, shot on location during the CART FedEx Championship Series last...

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com

The highly anticipated film "Driven", starring Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds, opens around the country on Friday, April 27. The film, shot on location during the CART FedEx Championship Series last year, is the story of Jimmy Bly, a young up and coming race driver. Bly, played by Kip Pardue, has lost his sense of direction in the world of high speed automobile racing.

Joe Tanto, a retired race car driver played by Sylvester Stallone, is called in by team owner Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) to coach the youngster back to championship form.


Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue and Til Schweiger. Photo: Warner Bros.

The film also weaves around the age old story of boy gets girl, boy tells girl to get lost, boy comes to senses and gets girl back.

Enough of the story, let's get down to the racing.

First off, there are no palm trees on pit lane at Toronto or Detroit, race cars don't explode as if they were carrying 20 pounds of dynamite and power sliding through turns with the steering wheel in full opposite lock is not the fastest way around a circuit.

But we all know that. This isn't a documentary, it's a Hollywood action film, and it's a good one.

The racing scenes start at the Chicago Motor Speedway, site of last year's Target Grand Prix. It probably goes without saying but there is a crash at every race in the movie. The first one, during the race at Chicago, is realistic in the sense that the car does not explode nor does it fly 50 feet into the air, landing a mile from the initial impact.

Despite the obligatory crash, the aerial shots at Chicago are breathtaking as the camera follows the cars along the high speed portions of the track. All of the on track cinematography in this movie gives the viewer a great sense of speed and excitement, which is highly complemented by the sound of the powerful motors.

Toronto is the next stop on the tour. Anyone who has ever been to the tight street course of the Molson Indy knows the dicing in the movie is a bit contrived. Yet the film does a magnificent job of capturing the atmosphere of the three day festival of speed.


Racing in the streets. Photo: Warner Bros..

The film begins to go over the top when Kip Pardue's character, Jimmy Bly, blasts off from a party driving a 900 horsepower Champ car. Joe Tanto, played by Stallone, hops in another race car and a high speed chase through downtown Chicago quickly ensues. While dyed-in-the-wool race fans will start to shake their heads in disbelief, several surprises during the scene add a comedic touch which make the scene highly palatable even for the most diehard racer.

Many of the on track scenes shot for the Detroit Grand Prix were shot at the 'Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve' in Montreal. A huge wreck sends one car flying off the track and into the Olympic rowing basin located behind the paddock. The combination of computer animation and a painstakingly slow motion effect makes this crash scene technologically superior to any of the others in the film.

During this huge wreck, race cars continued through the crash site at speed, producing several near misses, which caused the audience to gasp aloud. I kept wondering why no one slowed down.

Leave your expectations of a technically correct documentary at home and enjoy Hollywood's take on some of the fastest race cars in the world. Ample racing scenes using all the latest in camera and computer animation technology make Driven a must see for anyone interested in the worldwide motorsports scene.

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Series Automotive , IndyCar