Thursday, February 27, 2014

Movie Review: Born to Race

Words by Ben

I can still remember the excitement I had when I saw the first installment of the Fast & the Furious on the silver screen. Before this, I had never seen a movie that depicted the life in the modified car scene, and everything was simply awesome.

But then as I watched it again and again (as, I believe, many motorheads out there), I found it to be a bit too... Outlandish. The cars were too rice, the effects too much, the action too fake. The movie was just too "Hollywood", and I ended up longing for a good, honest movie about living in the modded car scene.

The following installments of the F&F franchise followed, and things only got more and more disconnected from real life. Nothing they brought could really quench my thirst for a good car movie. Until I stumbled upon Born to Race.

Born to Race' story line revolves about the modified car culture, and has an uncanny resemblance to the Fast & Furious Tokyo Drift's scenario, but that's about all they have in common. While you will see some familiar faces such as Erik King (Dexter), the mechanical class teacher, there are no star studded actors there.  Nonetheless, the acting is good, and you'll grow fond of certain characters, like the hero's badass dad (John Pyper-Ferguson - FringeBattlestar Galactica).

The story is simple. Danny Krueger (Joseph Cross -Untraceable, Lincoln), is a hot headed young motorhead who lets the gasoline in his blood get the better of him - something many of us can relate to.

After getting busted for racing a loudmouth prick and crashing into a cop car, he gets sent away to live with his father in some lost city in the middle of nowhere.

Like any of us would do in such a situation, Danny quickly gets back into the local car scene, where he makes friends and, of course, enemies.

He then decides to take part in the NHRA High School Drags, for which he will have to patch up with his father in order to be able to take down the local celebrity kid.

The parallels between the fathers and sons, both on the hero or "bad guy" side are well played, and it's fun to see how similar the two generations are to each other. Same rivalries, same patterns.

The rift between the hero and his father takes an important place in the movie, and its resolution will definitely pull a string in motorhead's hearts.

An aspect of this movie that I appreciated above all else is its educative elements. Through subtle comments from its characters, Born to Race teaches the general audience about elements of the nature of motorsports and the car culture, such as when Danny Krueger learns how to use NOS or when the drag strip commentator explains that the importance of doing a burnout for RWD cars, and why Danny and his AWD Subaru doesn't need to smoke his tyres. Tons of little educative tips are slipped in the movie, making it easy to approach for non-motorheads, yet fun and interesting.

The director, Alex Ranarivelo, has done a great job at capturing the importance of cars in the life of a motorhead, and made sure to always incorporate the key vehicles in his shots.

I think the simplicity and purity of the action makes this movie believable and relaxing to watch. You won't see cars triple somersaulting over road humps nor distorting when braking the speed of light at the push of the NOS switch. The action scenes are clean and real. No CGI'ed racing action here.

Well played, Alex Ranarivelo. Born to Race is a surprising good movie, which went by under the radar, but is well worth the time!

The cherry on top of the cake - the second installment, Born to Race: Fast Track, is currently in post production. I hope they kept it as clean and educative as the first opus. Time will tell.

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