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Zooming over the familiar ground that’s been pounded flat by testosterone-heavy action flicks The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Biker Boyz, Torque tries to rev up this tired tale of yet another adrenaline addict with a love for supersonic speeds.
Cary Ford has just returned to the West Coast after hiding in Thailand for six months to avoid a bunch of unpleasant gentlemen who’d like to have more than just a discussion with him. One of those gents, Henry, is a violent drug dealer and motorcycle gang-banger with a Harley Davidson-sized chip on his shoulder. It seems Henry had stuffed crystal meth inside some iron hogs and deposited them at the repair shop of Ford’s girlfriend (Shane), and that Ford, discovering the deception, stole the bikes to keep his sweetie from getting busted. That means that not only is Henry gunning for Ford, but so are several very dedicated FBI agents who are convinced he's a drug dealer. (It doesn't help that Henry has framed Ford for murder.)
Ford genuinely cares about Shane, doing what he can to keep her from danger. Trey Wallace, the leader of a biker gang called the Reapers, refuses to allow Henry to deal dope in his turf. Ford saves Trey from a speeding train, a selfless act that causes Trey to reconsider the accusations against him.
Trey, hungry for blood, tells his gang with all the fervor of a revival preacher, “I want his head by midnight! ... Amen?!” Ford holds to the popularized spiritual belief that “what you put out comes back tenfold.”
There are puns about promiscuity and venereal disease. Barely clad women engage in something of a wet T-shirt contest during a bike wash. One of Ford’s chums predatorily prowls for ladies and is interrupted while trying to bed one. Henry’s squeeze struts about in a barely-there leather top and astonishingly tight pants; Henry crudely slaps her on the rear at one point. Shane’s outfits are scarcely more modest, often displaying her midriff and top of her breasts. Lesbian chic gets a boost when a bound Shane has her backside fondled by a woman and when skimpily dressed female dancers grind together at a club. A man keeps a nude photo on his key chain. A supersonic bike whips up a woman’s skirt when it passes. Ford and Shane kiss several times.
Torque exists for little other reason than to make death-defying, high-energy motorcycle stunts look effortlessly stylish. It opens with Ford blasting through the middle of an illegal street race on his bike. Angry riders often trade blows at high speeds. Individuals are frequently knocked from their cycles and several people crash headlong into one another at high speeds. Shane and Ford playfully tear through crowded streets, nearly bowling over pedestrians. High-speed chases are fueled by gunplay when Trey’s enraged gang hunts Ford. Shane is nearly crushed by her ride during a crash. Ford and Trey race on top of—then through—a speeding passenger train (it ends with Trey’s bike being crushed and exploding). Ford zips through oncoming traffic, causing multiple crashes.
There’s plenty of non-vehicular violence, too. Characters are strangled, incinerated, beaten, shot and stabbed. Ford takes down a couple of bullies with well-aimed blows to the face and crotch. Trey and Ford trade punches and kicks to the face. Henry pulls a knife on Ford, only to be stopped by a pistol pointed at his head. A huge brawl erupts at a club. Trey’s brother has his face slammed into a bathroom mirror before being strangled with a motorcycle chain. Shane floors an assailant with a blunt object. A woman is shot multiple times at close range.
Crude or Profane Language
One f-word and over 15 s-words, plus more than 35 other profanities and crudities. A handful of racial slurs denigrate African Americans, Caucasians and Asians; the fact that conflicts are regularly couched in terms of race makes those slurs all the more bothersome. Jesus’ name is abused once and God’s about half-a-dozen times. Shane makes an obscene gesture.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Henry is a drug dealer so controlled substances are mentioned often in dialogue, but are seen only once. Beer makes regular appearances. Ford downs suds and invites Shane out for a drink. She readily accepts. Trey sips champagne and complains that unpleasant conversation is taking the edge off his buzz. Alcohol flows freely during a dance. Ford tells his friends it would be great to “go to Mexico and get drunk.”
Other Negative Elements
Henry and his cohorts urinate by the side of the road. Ford and his friends break into tractor trailers in order to hide from police.
Torque is one of those films that really gets you thinking—about how sloppy it is. It's certainly more likely to prompt narrative queries than philosophic ones. For example, why would Ford, after discovering Henry’s drug smuggling operation, hide the evidence and skip town instead of just calling the cops? And why would Henry hide drugs in motorcycles and then drop them off at a garage in the first place? Finally, how can a man get thrown from an exploding motorbike at over 200 mph sans helmet and end up with only one small bruise next to his eye? Moviegoers will be left to assume it’s because the screenwriters had to create some kind of conflict and some kind of action, and no one cared how farfetched it seemed.
Why would a major motion picture studio create such an obviously and obnoxiously flawed work? Because large numbers of 24-going-on-12-year-old males always seem willing to shell out $7.50 to see scantily clad woman, violent clashes and super-slick racing action.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Martin Henderson as Cary Ford; Monet Mazur as Shane; Ice Cube as Trey Wallace; Jay Hernandez as Dalton; Will Yun Lee as Val; Adam Scott as Agent McPherson
Joseph Kahn ( )