Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Review: The World's Fastest Indian

The World's Fastest Indian

If you are looking for timely movie reviews from me now is as good of a time as any to crush that sweet notion into the ground until no more breath escapes it's cold dark lips. The truth is that I mostly watch DVDs, and even the films I see in the theater have often already been out a few weeks. No fancy press pass here, so It's not like I see movies the day before release because I'm some sort of filmic gatekeeper letting you know exactly what you should and shouldn't see. A Dice review, rather, is a little more real world.

Case in point.

I was checking out upcoming showings on HDMovies (I'm willing to watch just about anything in glorious HiDef) and saw a movie I had heard good things about a while back but never got the chance to check out, "The World's Fastest Indian". I set it to DVR, and it sat there on my hard-drive for about 2 weeks before I got around to starting it a few days ago and finishing it last night. So I'm not exactly Roger Ebert in that way, but I will let you know when I hit a movie worth talking about. After all, just cause a movie is a couple years old, doesn't mean it can't have an impact. It may not be fresh in theaters or even in the new release section at Netflix, but if I saw it, I'll bust out some thoughts here in the blog.

I knew "The World's Fastest Indian" was about an old guy who loved going fast. I didn't think he really looked Indian in the previews (nor Native American, as if the title would be so un-PC) and I wasn't sure why his national heritage was even of note. Turns out it's the motorcycle he rides that is the "Indian" and his national heritage actually does play a vital role, in that he's a Kiwi (New Zealander for those that didn't pay attention in the Lord of the Rings' special features) and has to travel to the other side of the globe if he wants to fulfill his quest to run in the official Bonneville time trials. The movie is ostensibly about his quest for a world land speed record, but under the surface this is much more a story about the journey that passion and purpose can take you on if you give in completely to a calling. It's also about peeing on your neighbor's lemon tree for them while they are away, so you decide what message to walk away with.

The heart of T.W.F.I. is an amazing performance by Sir Anthony Hopkins as Burt Monro. Based on a true story (though the movie takes quite a few liberties with the facts) Munro jumps from the screen as a charismatic yet simple everyman, and Hopkins' performance perfectly brings him to life for us. You get the sense that this could be your grandpa, if only your grandpa was cool enough to drive a motorcycle over 200 mph and had a New Zealand accent. He is at the same time out of place and yet comfortable in any situation. He is both aloof and yet keenly astute. It's an amazing balancing act and Mr. Hopkins is completely up to the task. The surrounding performances though seem a bit over the top and hammy at times, but that may just be lesser actors withering in the genius that is Anthony Hopkins. I also thought the movie was extremely well shot and beautiful, but that could just be the HD euphoria talking.

The truth is I liked this movie quite a bit, and it had me invested even with a somewhat slow pace. Despite a few minor glorifications of immorality and rebellion, the overall message was a refreshing look at what happens when someone pursues life (and purpose) with zeal and a disregard of consequence. It's a reminder that we could all use a little more single mindedness about the things that are important in our own lives. Been wanting to write that novel? Trying to get focused on starting your own business? Been waiting to start that family? Take a lesson from old Burt Monro and just go for it, all out, no holds barred. Just make sure you have someone to "water" the lemon tree while you're away.

The World's Fastest Indian: 88%

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