Review: Torque

torque_cov2.jpgYear: 2004
Director: Joseph Kahn
Starring: Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur, Jaime Presley
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 37

Plot
A biker gets framed for the murder of a gang leader’s brother because he stole another gang leader’s drug-filled bikes.

Quick Review
Torque has ample eye candy, but it can’t save this film. The action fails to excite, the story is a mess, the acting stinks, and the script is transparent. Pretty much the only reason to watch this film is the gorgeous Monet Mazur, but even then it’s tough to endure all the rest.

Full Review
Torque is a sledgehammer: powerful, simple, and blunt. This movie doesn’t waste time with subtle things like a plot, a script, or acting. Getting hit with a sledgehammer tends to leave you stunned and slightly dumber, and watching Torque does that to you as well. On the whole, the negatives with this movie greatly overwhelm the positives.

Torque is more an MTV collage of loud music, flying motorcycles, snarling men, and sexy women than it is a coherent story. You’ll jump from motorcycle chase to fight to motorcycle chase with hardly time to run to the fridge for a beer. Even in collage mode, however, it doesn’t work well. For torque1a.jpga movie that banks heavily on fights and motorcycle action, it doesn’t do a good job with either. The motorcycle shots are choppy, hard to follow, and poorly constructed. Camera angles used to shoot the action pushed me away from the action rather than drew me into it. Fights are much the same. Shots are cut too quickly, and it’s hard to follow who is doing what. Special effects are insignificant. Explosions are rare and non-distinct. At times, however, the action does rise above its mediocrity. A chase scene on a train was creative and exciting, if not a tad over the top. Some of the other motorcycle stunts were original and fun, but usually they happen so fast and are edited so poorly that it’s tricky to process what happened.

Torque does move along at a refreshing, brisk, pace, but this is largely because the movie doesn’t slow down for things like developing the plot. Occasionally, the movie does spend a couple of minutes explaining what’s going on, torque2a.jpgbut it probably shouldn’t have bothered. I’d say that the plot is full of holes, but I’m kind of guessing. I honestly couldn’t understand a lot of what was going on, beyond a basic three-sentence plot description. Stuff is constantly happening that either isn’t explained or doesn’t make sense. For example, gang leader Henry James (played by Matt Schulze) wants two motorcycles back from Cary Ford (played by Martin Henderson). For some reason, James’ gang then gets up and rides to Los Angeles. They never really explain why (it does become clearer, kind of, perhaps, at the end). Apparently this happens just to give Ford and his friends a reason for riding hundreds of miles at breakneck speed. Much of rest of the movie happens in this same vein. An entire murder case hinges on matching a chain to a gear, as if that would somehow be enough to prove guilt and innocence. An FBI agent blows up an entire building, with herself inside, just perhaps for kicks. torque3a.jpgIt’s all kind of a silly, sloppy mush.

Then we come to the script and the acting, which generally follow the lead of the awful plot. The humor in the script is repetitive and trite (I get that the gangs don’t know the difference between Thailand and China, and it was mildly entertaining the first time, but do you have to keep coming back to it?). Occasionally we get a decent quote, but for the most part there is nothing notable. It’s hard to tell how bad the script is, though, because the actors do nothing with it. Ice Cube, as gang leader Trey, can’t act. Well, let me rephrase that. He can snarl. But his performance in Torque sets himself up as a candidate for worst acting role in an action movie. It’s really that bad. Matt Schulze is nearly as awful. Most of the rest of the cast follow suit, as they deadpan their lines with the emotional force of lead or shout their lines like a deaf grandfather. As an exception, Adam Scott, playing FBI agent McPherson, does bring some life to his role. Also, Martin Henderson, as the protagonist, did act well enough for me to actually care about him a bit, but that may more be a reflection on how awful everyone else was in the film than it is a reflection of of his ability.
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I should mention that Torque does deserve some credit for its ending. The final chase scene is creatively shot and a good effort at creative filmmaking. The scene doesn’t work, mind you, and fails to capture any sense of realism or excitement, but it was a unique and daring approach to a chase scene. For this risk-taking, it deserves a nod of recognition.

As I always say, if you make a crappy movie, with no plot, terrible acting, and awful action, the least you can do is give us some eye candy to distract us. I’m happy to say that in this regard, Torque gets almost everything right. I can’t say this loud enough: Monet Mazur, who plays Ford’s girlfriend Shane, is freaking gorgeous in this film. The make-up and outfitting for her are perfect, and she exudes a sensual charisma that takes away a lot of the dullness from the rest of the film. Jaime Presley, as Henry James’ girlfriend China, has a nice vibe going as well. There are also occasional beautiful women scattered about the movie. From the hunk side of things, Martin Henderson is easy on the eyes.

In the end, however, all the eye candy in the world can’t help this film. The action fails to excite, the story is a mess, the acting stinks, and the script is transparent. Pretty much the only reason to watch this film is Monet Mazur, but even then it’s tough to endure all the rest.

Score
Pace: 81
Plot: 21
Action: 39
Consistent Premise: 42
Script/Quotes: 29
Characters: 37
Acting: 31
Villain: 22
Body Count: 5
Time to First Dead Body: 25 minutes, 22 seconds
Babes: 87
Hunks: 83
Explosions: 22
Special Effects: 15
Stunts: 54
Ending: 30

Overall: 37 (Subtract 14 if Monet Mazur and Jaime Presley weren’t in it)

[tags]Torque, movie review, action movie, Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur, Jaime Presley[/tags]

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