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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.46%
Worth A Look: 7.59%
Average: 16.46%
Pretty Bad: 20.25%
Total Crap39.24%

5 reviews, 49 user ratings

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Driven (2001)
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by Erik Childress

"Stallone's Labor For The Audience"
1 stars

Auto racing as a sport has always been lost on me. Its excitement level on television ranks somewhere between watching paint dry on a fishing boat and waiting for a caterpillar to hatch. There are a bunch of cars, enough sponsorship to make a mockery of Josie and the Pussycats’ satire and a big long track where the real tension lies in the driver’s ability to make a left. The cliched truth of it all is the spectator’s anticipation of a crash. Any crash. They want to see parts flying and cars doing a ballet dance of metal off the track. These same expectations can be applied to Sylvester Stallone’s latest film, Driven. There’s not much going on around the racing. There’s not much going on during the racing. There is the occasional bump-and-grind metaldance, which will perk up anyone if they didn’t realize that they were watching one giant crash already.

Driven isn’t just a crash, it’s a huge pileup of epic proportions. If you combined the wreck total of The Road Warrior, The Blues Brothers, the 1974 version of Gone In Sixty Seconds (93 cars in the final 45 minutes) and the complete collection of When Drivers Attack, you wouldn’t even be ready to scrape the highway of what a disaster this film actually is. Driven is likely to go down in history as one of the all-time bad movies. Moreover when you consider it stars two actors (Stallone and Burt Reynolds) who are responsible for some of the most critically savaged films of the last three decades, you already have two stale resumes to jog your memory and choose from. How bad is Driven? Somewhere below Stroker Ace. Way below.

It stars Stallone (or “co-stars” as I’m not quite sure who this film is really about) as Joe Tanto, an ex-CART driver who gets called out of retirement (for reasons too hazy to even fathom a second thought) to give a little guidance to an up-and-coming driver, Jimmy Blye (Kip Pardue), whose problems to focus while racing probably stems from his ability to sweat in every single scene he’s in. Other than a questionable pit exit in their first race together, what Stallone actually does for this kid is left up for discussion. He has one big talk with him and lends him moral support while he hops ten times on a bruised foot, but other than that, your guess is as good as mine. How much tutelage one can accept from a character nicknamed “The Hummer” is beyond me. The last time I remember a character identified as “The Hummer” was, appropriately enough, in Blake Edwards’ “A Fine Mess” and it was not based on her ability to hum while “getting close to the edge” in a race car.

The other co-stars start with Reynolds as the wheelchair-bound team leader, Carl Henry, who either yells at, pisses off, or gets wheeled around by other actors in the typical summation of Reynolds career decisions. Til Schweiger (who looks like a cross between Val Kilmer and Jurgen Prochnow) plays the Rowdy Burns of the piece, Beau Brandenburg, who in the opening scenes breaks up with longtime girlfriend Sophia (played by the poor man’s Charlize Theron, Estella Warren). Sophia immediately turns Yoko, hooks up with Jimmy (yet another relationship unclearly defined) and does some swimming pool acrobatics. That is until Beau slaps a big ring on her, prompting Sophia to switch teams more often than Anne Heche. Yet, everyone still likes the golddigging whore.

The remaining women in the piece, other than the actual pieces continually cut to in short shorts, tight tops and inhaling hot dogs and foot-long cinnamon twists in long shots, don’t fare much better. Stacy Edwards plays a journalist (I think) who starts some flirtation with Joe (affectionately nicknamed “wise ass”). Their relationship disappears though when Joe must chase Jimmy through the streets of Chicago in a pair of stolen race cars, which is not only more interesting than any of the race scenes, but actually resembles the old Rally X video game in an overhead shot. Gina Gershon plays Joe’s ex-wife, now married to the “younger and better” Memo Moreno (Cristián de la Fuente), who remains way too friendly with Stallone’s character to escape grievous bodily harm later in the proceedings. Gershon’s dialogue in every scene should have consisted of just the following: “Hey, I’m a bitch. Look at how HOT I am. Excuse me while I go call the Wachowski Brothers and beg them for a part in the Matrix sequels.”

If you can scrape together the remnants of a plot from what I’ve just described, then Stallone could have used you during the writing process. This script must have run about 20 pages from a treatment that contained three paragraphs, because whenever this film doesn’t suck its dialogue off the tit of the cliché pig, we are forced to watch vignette after MTV vignette of people talking, people racing, relationships being tied up and wrecked, all without a word ever being heard. Word to the sound designers of this film: I don’t care how much realism you’re going for around the racetrack setting, but its not a smart idea to turn up all your ambient sound to the point where you have to struggle to hear the characters talking about things we’re meant to be hearing outside of the vignettes.

The racing scenes couldn’t possibly be any more poorly staged or boring than watching it on television with the speakers broke. The crashes, while cool, are there to wake everyone up and look more like implanted CGI images then wince-inducing realism. My favorite, most ridiculous segment, occurs in a race that begins and continues while rain floods the track. Sometimes it’s cloudy. Sometimes it’s sunny and you can just about see the rain sprinklers offscreen. And sometimes computer enhanced water droplets strain the visibility of the drivers. But that’s not even the funniest part.

One driver gets into a crash so bad that he gets thrown off the track, out of the stadium and into a nearby lake. Another driver turns around and heads backwards on the track to help out. A third driver is then ordered by his pit to stop racing and also offer his assistance. All this to setup another of the “get him out of the water before that burning tree falls on the leaking fuel scenes.” I don’t give two licks about racing and I think this is ridiculous. I can’t even fathom what the people who make their travel plans to the Midwest during Memorial Day will think.

This film was supposedly a labor of love of Stallone; hence you would have thought a little more effort would have been deposited into the script process. Instead it turns into a labor for the audience without the anesthetic. Stallone tapped his Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin to mount this project, who even with a resume that includes Die Hard 2, Deep Blue Sea and the underappreciated Adventures of Ford Fairlane, is most remembered for the disastrous flop Cutthroat Island. People will be reevaluating that film after Driven, which is so directionless it has to cut away for German weather reports.

Skeptics will even go back and give Days of Thunder a second look, a film that I’ve always felt was unfairly maligned and ranks first on my list of Tom Cruise/Tony Scott collaborations. Even through all its melodramatic Bruckheimer splendor, it still managed to find room for plot and character (cliched, as they may have been) and for some truly well written dialogue. Go back and take another look if you want to see a good racing film that Stallone obviously didn’t.

Audiences haven’t been crying foul over the lack of auto racing films recently. It would have been favorable though (especially in the wake of Dale Erhnhardt’s death) to make a movie that not only paid respect to the sport, but to the millions of fans willing to embrace hundreds of laps of speed over and over and over again. This movie neglects to prove that it even has the slightest idea of what racing is all about. At least Days of Thunder had the lingo down and we got to watch Robert Duvall talk to a car while building it from scratch. Driven is like a mute trying to communicate with a Pinto. It’s a terrible film that made no effort of anything but to find a track and go real fast in hope that we wouldn’t realize we were only going straight and making lefts. Just once I wished Driven could have taken a right…..right into a wall!

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originally posted: 04/25/01 09:50:50
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell good racing scenes nothing else 2 stars
12/06/14 MarkM Avoid at all costs! Nothing good about "Drivel", err I mean "Driven". Pure dreck. 1 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 1 stars
8/20/07 mr.mike not great , but Sly and Burt make it tolerable 3 stars
8/18/05 ES This movie kept me from getting home one night due to roads being closed for the filming 1 stars
6/14/05 E-FUNK Who the fuck green-lights vaginal discharge like this? Fucking awful in every respect. 1 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW WORTH SITTING THROUGH FOR Gina Gershon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/11/05 The Sorrow Gina Gershon was the only saving grace of this film for me... 4 stars
2/16/05 Sugarfoot Just what the world needed, Rocky meets Cannonball Run. With Stallone and Reynolds no less. 1 stars
9/04/04 Archanist_101 Not bad... They could've fixed the script a little... Gina Gershon ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
2/07/04 Kurt Wagner promised much more than it ever delivered. 1 stars
11/27/03 John very bad film that I happen to like 3 stars
5/20/03 your worse goddamn nightmare A chick I'm fuckin' is somewhere in the background in this movie. So that makes it... 5 stars
4/24/03 Andrew Carden Great Cast, Bad Movie. 2 stars
4/01/03 Mr. Do shitty movie. shitty music. 1 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Should've made a permanant PITStop before darkening theatres. 1 stars
2/08/03 The Bint The Only way to survive this piece of shit was to CONCUSS MYSELF WITH MY OWN FIST! 1 stars
1/22/03 Chiendog Once again, Stallone is asleep at the wheel. 1 stars
8/03/02 Terrie Smith Really embarassing watching Stallone & Reynolds trying to act. Complete waste of time. 2 stars
5/31/02 doug good 4 stars
5/21/02 Kat Balue Of the so-bad-its-good variety. 'Showgirls' with a speedometer instead of boobs 5 stars
2/23/02 Beyonder I would have liked if I was 10 years old ! 2 stars
1/16/02 David A. Stallone in a non-violent role? I'm surpised but it rocked big time! Great! 5 stars
12/07/01 Dominik Duprelle I hadn't LAUGHED so hard in years! INSPIRED! BRILLIANT COMEDY! 5 stars
10/08/01 jawsboy Dog shit editing!! Badly written script,stupid!! Bad acting from most.maybe one good scene? 2 stars
10/02/01 Phoenix It looks and plays like a video game, but video games are fun and so is some of the movie. 3 stars
9/25/01 Daphne Aguilera I don't think it was bad 5 stars
8/16/01 ryan burns was good till the cones i had wore off !!!! 3 stars
8/10/01 kris Rubbish 2 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk I would rather run hot, searing needles through my scrotal sac than watch this again... 1 stars
7/01/01 Nicole Wouldn't see it again. Everyone's mess was in the movie plot, sucked 2 stars
5/08/01 Rampage Burt Reynolds?!?!? What the hell were they thinking! 2 stars
5/08/01 Trister Kept me on the edge of my seat all movie long. 5 stars
5/07/01 Timo UK Special effects sucked! 2 stars
5/07/01 Porkchop Action packed!!! 4 stars
5/06/01 Just for Estella Warren This movie sucked shit,the only thing worth seeing in this movie is Estella Warren 3 stars
5/06/01 Bill Great!!!!! 5 stars
5/05/01 Shane cant wait for the fast and the furious 2 stars
5/04/01 roby lafon a great movie 5 stars
5/03/01 Randal Graves Not great not bad but kicked the hell out of Crouching tiger 3 stars
5/02/01 Pat Scopelliti Stunningly bad. Dude, this movie sucks! 1 stars
5/01/01 Wambat dude U suck ass That movie was awesome 5 stars
4/30/01 Eric Barnes Very Exhilerating, Pure Action 5 stars
4/30/01 Chris Smith Very cool racing scenes. Very Entertaining!! 4 stars
4/29/01 bullit17 Over-directed and under-written. And even the action scenes get ruined with unnecessary FX 3 stars
4/28/01 JH When I say this is a Formula movie, I'm not talking about the cars. 1 stars
4/28/01 Ben Demyen Best racing movie ever! 5 stars
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  27-Apr-2001 (PG-13)


  16-Aug-2001 (M)

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