Torque is the worst movie of the year. I realize it’s only January, but I think it’s bad enough to hold on to that title for quite awhile. Granted, the competition for such things is always fierce, but Torque comes rolling out of the gate as a legitimate contender.
It opens on the desert road from Superman. You remember it as the one where the ground opened up and swallowed Lois Lane’s car. Superman flew around the world backwards, moving heaven and earth to reverse time and save her. Sadly, he doesn’t show up here to stop this movie from going any further. The road is barely paved. There is no intersection. Yet someone has placed a traffic light right in the middle of it, presumably to give the buzzards time to feast on the rotting corpses of Torque’s writers. The light turns green and the movie begins, roaring through a race sequence that proves irrelevant, serving only to set up our hero as an over-eager punk with too much machismo.
Filmed with a style brazenly reminiscent of the worst of Toho’s classic Godzilla movies (Where is Rodan when you need him?), Torque is the story of a leather clad biker named Ford (Martin Henderson). He’s just back from Thailand, where he’s spent the last six months hiding from some trouble. No, he wasn’t giving it time to blow over as it is now six months later and nothing has changed. My guess is that he was hanging out there just long enough to annoy his girlfriend, thus creating much needed sexual tension for the movie.
The rest of Ford’s plan is equally incomplete. Upon his return, he makes it a point to wander around out in the open, hitting all the spots where his enemies are most likely to be. Once discovered, he parties just long enough for the bad guys to construct an inescapable trap, and then hightails it with his buddies into the deep desert to hide out in the cave where Santini and Hawk keep Airwolf. There, they plan a run to Mexico but somehow end up driving to L.A. instead. This is really just an excuse for them to chase and be chased across California, which except for Los Angeles, is composed entirely of post-apocalyptic wasteland.
The great thing about Torque is that Director Joseph Kahn has eliminated wind from the script. This makes things a little easier on his stuntwomen since they don’t have to deal with the problem of long hair blowing in their eyes. It also erases any feeling of speed that his movie might have had. After all, speed is supposed to pretty much be the point of this thing, right? But when Ice Cube can read a map on a motorcycle going ninety it’s hard to believe he’s doing anything other than sitting on a banana seat in front of a blue screen.
Pursued both by the Feds (Adam Scott doing his best James Spader impersonation) and by no less than two textbook biker gangs, Ford and his friends drive really fast. Bullets start flying around and Jamie Presley escapes by using the fast forward button she keeps hidden under her piercings. Ford’s girlfriend Shane (Monet Mazur) pursues because she apparently hates other women, freeing Ford to hop on an unexplained super bike and pretend he’s the Flash.
But the Flash never had to deal with extreme close-ups, which seem to be the thing that Joseph Khan’s camera most favors. What’s odd is that before each action sequence, Khan goes out of his way to set up the terrain with a massive wide shot, only to follow it with what can only be described as an intentional bid to completely lose his audience. Race scene or fight scene, it is all a muddled mess. If you can figure out what’s going on, be my guest.
The soundtrack doesn’t help, ill fitting and irritating, it coats the movie in a slick slime of noise, serving only to make the big budget effects moments it highlights seem even more lost. Outside the context of this film I actually like some of the songs Torque used; yet in it they become inexplicably irritating. Grating noise screeched out over even more grating and blurred out movement.
Don’t worry it’s not all action and racing. Torque takes time to stop and let its characters stand in line-up formation. In the assumed tough-guy position, they point guns at one another and shout phrases stolen from other movies. In this way, Kahn bookends his action scenes with what is supposed to be character development. What’s amazing is that with all that plot going on, Torque still makes time for the biggest outdoor group peeing scene in movie history. Biker’s do it best.
Torque exists in a place where people blow themselves up to get revenge on others and credits move more convincingly than motorcycles. It has nothing to offer, except an evening spent making fun of one of the world’s worst movies. Perhaps we’ve been too hard on The Fast and the Furious. Torque proves that racing movies can always get worse.