Driven (2001) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

I cannot quite recommend Renny Harlin’s Cart racing drama Driven, but I must confess, I have a sneaky affection towards it. The story follows Jimmy Bly (Kip Parde), a young hotshot rookie racer on the circuit who shots to fame early, but is having a hard time dealing with his rising popularity and newfound media attention. His pit boss Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) calls in veteran racer Joe Tanto (Stallone) to mentor the kid and get him back winning. Meanwhile Bly begins dating the ex-girlfriend (Estella Warren) of his rival (Til Schweiger) further distracting himself and creating and even bigger grudge between the two competitors.

The film was written by Sylvester Stallone and although he receives top-billing it feels like the filmmakers have relegated him to the sidelines in favor of younger less interesting characters. Apparently the script went through dozens of drafts before ending here as a story that hits all the familiar beats of a sports drama and not much else. Stallone has proven to be a fantastic writer in the past unfortunately here, maybe due to editing in postproduction, characters are prone to making grand statements or blunt truths. I have to believe the film and story have been chiseled down from a much longer and more in-depth profile of the sport and men that occupy this world.

Where Driven truly excels is in the magnificent racing sequences. Harlin and his crew including cinematographer Mauro Fiore and editors Stuart Levy and Steve Gibson have crafted the most exhilrating racing footage to ever hit the big-screen. Other than the distracting inclusion of some sub-par CGI shots the driving and all stunts were preformed by actual professionals and the film possesses authority during these passages. It’s when people slow down and talk to each other that Driven really gets bogged down.

Director: Renny Harlin
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue,Til Schweiger

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