"Racing for Love and Glory"
What You Need To Know:
DRIVEN’s classic premise might have delivered truly great redemptive entertainment if certain annoying cinematic distractions had been avoided. Director Renny Harlin ’s annoying racing montages, hackneyed car race master shots and excessively loud rock music score undermines scriptwriter Stallone’s efforts. Harlin loses his flair for action films here. Moreover, although Jimmy crosses himself once in his race car, there is no mention or reference to the God of the race track. Granted, most Formula One drivers may be unbelievers, yet Jimmy’s budding faith remains entirely undeveloped. Observers might well wonder how Jimmy would look at his life and death struggle to win in the face of God’s prior claim on his soul
(RoRo, H, B, C, L, VV, N, A, M) Romantic, humanist worldview of Formula One car racing with a very few biblical & Christian elements; several minor examples of foul language; many spectacular, violent car crashes with severe injuries; some sensuality; women racing fans in skimpy clothes & upper male nudity; alcohol use; and, miscellaneous verbal threats among the four main protagonists.
In DRIVEN, actor-screenwriter-executive producer Sylvester Stallone almost gets it right. If it weren’t for Director Renny Harlin’s annoying racing montages, hackneyed car race track master shots, and excessively loud rock music score, DRIVEN might rank as one of the year’s stand-out movie entries due to its classic, emotionally fulfilling, albeit humanistic, storyline.
DRIVEN tells the story of Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue), an emotionally volatile young rookie Formula One race car driver, who joins a race car team to win the trophy. When Jimmy encounters various emotional and psychological obstacles in his intense rivalry with race car leader Beau Brandenberg (Til Schweiger), team owner Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) enlists the aid of former Formula One winner Joe Tanto (Sylvester Stallone) to help Jimmy enter the winner’s circle. A classic premise which might have delivered truly great redemptive entertainment if certain annoying cinematic distractions had been avoided.
DRIVEN starts with Jimmy having a fit in his trailer because he can’t stand the emotional pressure to perform. His brother, fellow team member, DeMille, (Robert Sean Leonard) urges him to shape up, and appeals to his ego. Seeing that rival race car driver Beau Brandenberg’s girlfriend, Sophie (Estella Warren), has broken up with him, Jimmy makes an advance on her in a bar. She falls for him, which enflames Brandenberg.
The rivalry between the two drivers intensifies during the next several races.
Jimmy escorts Sophie to a lavish racing reception, at which she leaves Jimmy to speak to Brandenberg, who offers her a ring. She accepts it, which enrages the volatile rookie to the point that he takes one of the Formula One show cars on an urban night joy ride through downtown Chicago. Seeing the pending disaster, Joe Tanto sets out after Jimmy in another borrowed race car, and joins the exciting but highly unlikely race car chase scene which exceeds the ground speeds attained in the famous car chase from 1968’s BULLITT.
Part of the unbelievability of this scene is that there are no legal consequences whatsoever for Jimmy’s nighttime joy ride, which caused several car crashes. After its conclusion, Joe supplants DeMille as Jimmy’s confidant, which causes his brother to defect to Brandenberg’s team.
Back on track in his racing outfit, Jimmy apologizes to Brandenberg for trying to steal his girlfriend, but the champion dismisses his overture. Both rivals prepare to drive the race of their lives, when a third driver, Memo (Cristian de la Fuente), has a spectacular accident, with his race car catapulting over a tree into a trackside lake. Memo’s life is in danger. In the movie’s heroic moment, Jimmy leaves the race to dive into the lake to save Memo, closely followed by the champion Brandenberg. Thus, both rivals stifle their competition to help save their comrade. The movie ends with a predictable, but fulfilling, climax.
Artistically, DRIVEN is flawed. Although Stallone is to be commended for writing realistic dialogue, and including exciting racing scenes, director Renny Harlin sabotages Stallone’s story with annoying, repetitive, racing montages, excessively loud music and hackneyed racetrack mastershots. Harlin may have excelled in his direction of 1996’s THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT and 1990’s DIE HARD II, but he loses his flair for action films here in DRIVEN.
Moreover, although Jimmy crosses himself once in his race car, there is no mention or reference to the God of the race track. Granted, most Formula One drivers may be unbelievers, yet Jimmy’s budding faith remains entirely undeveloped. Observers might well wonder how Jimmy would look at his life and death struggle to win in the face of God’s prior claim on his soul, but no one broaches the topic of Jesus Christ’s love for him, or for the other drivers, in the entire course of this movie.