review for Driven on AllMovie

Driven (2001)
by Michael Hastings review

Writer/star Sylvester Stallone's gleefully bad Formula One action-melodrama is the kind of tale that can only benefit from ham-fisted plotting, lame dialogue, and wildly overmodulated performances -- all of which Driven sports in abundance. The film oscillates between high-octane international racing scenes, heavy on airborne crashes and preposterously non-life threatening injuries, and ludicrous, high-camp soap opera, heavy on self-parody thanks to the contributions of Burt Reynolds and Gina Gershon. Presumably worried that his audience might lose interest during the latter portions, director Renny Harlin shoots and edits the simplest of conversations as frantically as he does the race scenes -- the multiple angles and cuts after every line of dialogue suggest a sort of visual equivalent of Benzedrine. To their credit, Harlin and cinematographer Mauro Fiore offer up some tricky camerawork to illustrate the thrill of being a driver (check out the clutch-pedal POV shot). These fleeting moments hint at a better, more realistic auto-racing film hiding within Driven, if not one as good as 1983's Heart Like a Wheel, then at least one on par with the documentary-style Le Mans (1971) or Grand Prix (1966). Until Harlin finds a screenwriter that can help him realize that film, however, it's best to appreciate Driven for what it is: an ironic, high-kitsch laugh fest.