Driven (2001) Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Kip Pardue, Til Schweiger, Gina Gershon Movie Review

Driven (2001)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Sylvester Stallone and Kip Pardue in Driven (2001)

Cliché Driven Action

Rookie racing driver Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue - Remember the Titans) has become a contender for the championship but his lack of focus starts causing him problems as does the pressure that his brother and manager puts him under. So concerned that Bly may buckle that race team owner Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds - Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business) calls up former driver Joe Tanto (Sylvester Stallone - Antz) to join the team as his number 2 driver and in doing so guide the young Bly to the championship. But in order to do so Tanto must first overcome his own mental scars from his driving days as well as keeping the peace between Bly and rival Brandenburg (Til Schweiger) who like the same girl.

I am sure that Sylvester Stallone is a fan of motor racing but the screenplay to "Driven" ends up having little resemblance to the sport as it delivers one cliche after another. And so basically "Driven" is a blend of the obvious and the cliche from the moment we meet sensational rookie driver Jimmy Bly who before you know it is struggling with confidence whilst dealing with a very pushy brother who acts as his manager. And what does a young driver with confidence issues need; well he needs an older driver to give him some guidance which brings in Joe Tanto who looks at the opportunity as a chance of redemption after removing himself from the sport following a major crash.

Cristián de la Fuente and Sylvester Stallone in Driven (2001)

But that is not enough because young Jimmy needs a rival in the shape of the icy cold Beau Brandenburg and to make matters worse Jimmy starts dating Beau's ex. And the cliches keep on rolling because all of this dram predictably builds to that big final race where Jimmy has to overcome an injury to drive whilst coming from the back of the grid. There is not one element to the screenplay which doesn't come from a cliche and it is so annoying as motor racing is a sport full of drama yet none of the true drama ever shows its face in the movie.

If that wasn't bad enough director Renny Harlin has gone beyond over the top in trying to make "Driven" action packed. There is one action scene after another which end up so unbelievable that it becomes painful. Having watched motor racing for more years than I care to remember I have never seen a car hit a tyre wall and then manage to somersault into the air the height of a couple of houses. And as for the balletic way one accident leads to a car rocketing through the sky and into a river is basically mental. If that wasn't bad enough we get a scene which is suppose to be dramatic where Jimmy and Joe end up racing through a city in the sports cars, man hole covers flipping and glass shattering in their wake. I'm sorry but none of this is real and nor is the macho BS which goes along with it especially in one scene where rivals Jimmy and Beau stop mid race to help a driver from a crash. It's all seriously wrong and whilst I am sure those who want macho, over the top BS action may find "Driven" exciting it ends up seriously cheesy.

Because the storyline is a series of cliches and the action is over the top you don't expect much from the acting and to be frank you don't get much either. I like Sylvester Stallone but here as Joe Tanto he borders on the cheesy as he tries to mentor young Jimmy whilst also demonstrating his unbelievable driving skills which go as far as managing to race a car with broken suspension. And whilst cheesy, Stallone is probably the best thing about "Driven" because Kip Pardue as Jimmy Bly does not have the arrogance to be a believable racing driver and neither does Til Schweiger who plays rival Beau Brandenburg. As for Estella Warren who plays love interest Sophia Simone well she is lovely but the extended synchronized swimming scene she is in is just one of many which is seriously out of place. I could go on because there is also Burt Reynolds and Robert Sean Leonard as well as Gina Gershon whose contribution is as weak as everyone else's.

What this all boils down to is that "Driven" ended up not only disappointing me but also annoying me. Everything about it is cliche, unbelievable and over the top and whilst some may find the action and crashes exciting it made the movie far too cheesy especially with the macho actions of the drivers. As such whilst "Driven" is suppose to be about motor racing it really isn't and should be avoided by anyone who loves the sport and wants to a watch an exciting movie about it.