I went to see this with my mom and grandmother at a theatre/restaurant. When was the last good Stallone movie? First Blood? Was that before or after Rocky? Almost everything else he's done has been either lame or silly. This was one of the silly films.
I saw a little bit of the Making Of and was surprised to learn that the producers are serious racing fans. I can't imagine why they made a movie that had so little to do with actual racing. I think I detect one of Stallone's "devastating rewrites."
For example, one of the "pivotal" scenes was when the kid and Stallone stole prototypes of the next year's cars and drove them out on the Chicago streets. I'm sure nearly everyone on the set was aware that those cars don't have their own starters. The car is started with a large mechanical crank that's part of the pit equipment. So there's no way to steal one of those cars.
Once on the street, lots of sillyness ensued. A couple of times the cars were supposed to be able to lift manhole covers out of the street and flip them twenty feet into the air. They blew by one (and only one) bus stop and blasted out the glass. And so on. Basically, just a bunch of silly, outrageous exaggerations.
I rolled my eyes when one car crashed and went way off-track (silly all by itself) and two other characters left the race to go help him. (Even though they couldn't see that he was in trouble from the track.) It took forever for the safety crews to arrive. Even Stallone was able to run from pit road to the crash site before the safety crews arrived. Then they finished it off with an enormous fireball.
Early scenes had a style that was pretty similar to On Any Given Sunday. There were a lot of quick-cuts in the middle of a piece of dialogue, some shaky cam, the action scenes were very stylized. Lots of really hot incidental women. But most of that style disappeared quickly. It almost felt like the director and editor put the beginning of the film together and then got tired of making all those cuts that were largely superfluous.
The movie was ostensibly more about the relationships off the track than the racing on the track. But the characters were so one-dimensional that the relationships were entirely trivial. The defending champion chases his girlfriend away. She's easily seduced by the up-and-coming kid. There are two or three very short scenes showing them together. After a few races, she decides to go back to the first guy. And that's about it. Stallone has an ex-wife character (Gena Gershon, yummy!) plus a new love interest. There are really no enemies amongst the characters in the film. The new kid's brother is a little bit sleazy, but they don't really do much with him. All of the "confrontations" were incredibly simple and perfunctory.
The racing itself is mostly glossed over. They only show a few bits of a couple of laps, plus a collage of pit stops. They show a few passes, mostly one character shifting gears and suddenly he's much faster than the other guy. (Apparently the other guy didn't know he was supposed to shift there.) In the final race Stallone and the kid "tag team" (I've never heard that as a racing term) to come up from the back of the pack. In the movie, it took them half the race to get from 26th place to 7th. Once again, I'm sure the producers are aware that the front-runners are capable of passing most of the field in just a few laps. In the Japanese Gran Prix a couple of years ago, Michael Shumacher went from last place to 6th in I believe four or five laps.
The special effects were generally very good. Some were CGI. Some were probably models. And a few were actual-sized props. It was fairly easy to pick out most of the CGI, because they screwed with gravity almost every time. For example, the manhole covers in the street scenes tended to float ten feet off the ground for two or three seconds. I know they were trying to use that as part of the drama, but that sort of glitch always annoys me.
I was annoyed several times during the movie when the sound track drowned out the dialogue.
Decent special effects, but the silly story generally wasted the acting talent. On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Cable with Dinner.
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