Directed by Andy Cheng. Starring Angus Macfadyen, Tim Matheson, Eddie Griffin, Nadia Bjorlin, Nathan Phillips, Wyclef Jean, Kevin Levrone. (2007, PG-13, 95 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 20, 2007
I hate to see good literary/cinematic scripture debased so literally, but Redline puts the lie to Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood quotable: "No man with a good car needs to be justified." In fact, not only does he need justification, he also could do with a few script revisions, some halfway decent dialogue, and – this one is key – the ability to shrug off the fact that actor Griffin just rammed his fire engine-red Ferrari Enzo into one of Irwindale Speedway's concrete crash barriers for no apparent reason other than the fact that he's a crap wheelman. I'll go even further and categorically state for the record that YouTube's 28-second clip of that real-world kiss of steel is infinitely more entertaining than anything in former Enzo owner and current Redline producer Daniel Sadek's poshy, rich-dick vanity flick. If The Fast and the Furious was the car-porn equivalent of Larry Flynt's upstart skin rag Hustler (vaguely amateur, barely legal, and very cherry), then Redline is redolent of Bob Guccione's too-glossy latter-day Penthouse, with an archaic bad boy's eye for both T&A and automotive emphasis on the exotic. (Yawn.) In a word, it's sleek and shiny and you can't have it. But why would any sane gearhead want to buy into any part of Redline's inane storyline? Wealthy men of leisure played by Macfadyen, Matheson, and Griffin bet $100 million of their money and their own cars – including the aforementioned Enzo, a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Lamborghini Murcielago, and a deuce of Mercedes McLarens – on a race of their own devising, using drivers who range from an Iraq vet (Phillips) to their, you'll pardon the leer, ace-in-the-hole, the spectaculiciously titillating Natasha (Bjorlin). (And that's not sexism; that's Sadekism.) The pneumatic Bjorlin plays a sexy singer-grease monkey-road vixen, who steals the show, barely, from all the candy-colored, metal-flake rimjobs that glide and slide across the screen before finally colliding like pliant, pseudo-aerodynamic spurts of aftermarket testosterone. Former stuntman-turned-director Cheng dives headfirst into the onanistic autoeroticism and manages the not inconsiderable feat of making chromed steel look like so much mercury on the macadam. But the movie feels mechanical all the way through, leaving Sadek's debut an inauspicious and ill-lubed affair, especially for RPM junkies such as yours truly. "Hello Kowalski. You there, Kowalski? Hello Kowalski."