REDLINE

PG-13
Reviews

Either by modern action-movie standards or old hotrod-movie standards, this street-racing flick is less a drive-in feature than a drive-by feature, the kind that speeds through neighborhood theatres leaving innocent victims laughing themselves to death.

Self-financed by Lebanese-born and France-raised real-estate mogul Daniel Sadek, and distributed by his West Hollywood, California film company, Chicago Pictures, this reportedly $26 million film, unscreened for critics, attempts to be an adrenaline-pumping, high-speed, boys-'n'-toys movie of cool-looking cars and accessory girls, with a story right out of the likes of Hot Rod Hullabaloo. Indeed, despite women showcasing more swinging rumps than in a butcher shop, any auto-erotica here concerns only the sleek lines, sexy curves and finger-touch responsiveness of such fantasy cars as the Lamborghini Murcielago, Mercedes McLaren, Porshe Carrera GT (ostensibly deliberately crashed in the movie) and the $1.5 million Ferrari Enzo (ostensibly accidentally crashed by Redline co-star Eddie Griffin in a March 2007 promotional/charity event at California's Irwindale Speedway).

Despite obvious comparisons to such recent street-race pictures as The Fast and the Furious and the Sylvester Stallone dud Driven, the heart of this film beats in such old-fashioned flicks as Dragstrip Girl or Road Racers--though even they would have winced at such lines as "Don't do it for the money. Don't do it for us. Do it because it's what you were born to do!"

You yourself will wince at star Nadja Bjorlin's opening and closing narration, which introduces us to three high-rollers who bet millions on illegal road races--New Agey multi-millionaire Michael D'orizio (Angus Macfadyen), movie producer Jerry Brecken (Tim Matheson), and music mogul Infamous (a truly awful Griffin)--and to Jason (Jesse Johnson), Michael's nephew and star racer, who can make the four-hour trip from L.A. to Vegas in an hour-forty-five. Why fellow bettor Marcus Cheng (Michael Hagiwara) gets ignored, who knows? Or cares. When Infamous brings custom-car souper-upper Natasha "Nat" Martin (former soap actress Bjorlin, Sadek's ex-fiancée), a fledgling singer, to perform at a bash for the latest race, Michael kidnaps her to be his bride. I'm not kidding. Fortunately for her, Michael's other nephew, war-hero Carlo (Nathan Philips, the sub-Mark Wahlberg), is on hand to mount an unsuspenseful, indifferently choreographed rescue while infiltrating Michael's mansion to avenge Jason's racing death. Carlo has, of course, already yelled "No-ooooo!" as Jason's wreckage exploded.

Wall-to-wall with barely dressed women, like a teenage boy's room plastered with covers from Maxim, Stuff and FHM, the movie is nonetheless chaste. Nat's like a sister to the guys in her literal garage band, and a devoted daughter to her widowed, fellow-mechanic mom (Barbara Niven, the late David Niven's one-time daughter-in-law). Her somehow managing to fit behind the wheel of teeny-tiny sports cars despite her outrageous push-up bras does, however, bring new meaning to the term "rack and pinion steering."

Though filled with tunes, Redline nonetheless looks like a music-video without the music--sleek visuals, lots of things moving around the screen, girls posing, and guys dressed like it's the 1980s. Steer clear.