"Torque" is music video director Joseph Kahn (the Britney Spears "Toxic" video)'s hilarious feature film directorial debut. The problem with that statement is that the film is not meant to be a comedy. Yet another attempt at remaking "The Fast and the Furious", the problem here is that Kahn takes every situation as seriously as star Vin Disel's "I live my life a quarter mile at a time" speech from "Fast and the Furious" (the same speech made fun of here). Given the fact that the film essentially lacks plot and character development, the ultra-seriousness just starts to become unintentionally funny at times.
What little story there is in the film revolves around biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson, who showed with "The Ring" that he deserves better than this), who returns home from Thailand to sort out some "business" that has apparently earned him the anger of a few groups of bad guys. There's an FBI agent (Adam Scott) and the leaders of not one, but two different biker gangs (Ice Cube and Matt Schulze). One think's Ford is responsible for the death of his brother, the other angered over a drug deal gone wrong.
Obviously, this is simply meant to be a movie about bikes going really, really fast (an even further filtering down of "The Fast and the Furious", which hand more story and an attempt at characters, at least), but there's even problems with "Torque" at that basic level. It's difficult to care about any of the characters or what happens to them, as they're basically interchangable. The action sequences are fine enough and completely over-the-top, but I'd almost rather see less spectacular sequences that involve more stunt work instead of scenes that are so obviously CGI-enhanced.
The performances are nothing special. Ice Cube, who has been excellent elsewhere, does what he can with a thinly-written role. Henderson isn't much better. Monet Mazur is bland as Ford's girlfriend, while a barely recognizable Jamie Pressley plays the girlfriend of one of the leaders. Supporting efforts by Jay Herandez ("Crazy/Beautiful") and others don't make much of an impression, either. None of them are served well by the dialogue, which is sometimes painful.
I certainly won't deny that this is a great-looking movie visually. Eye-catching with its high-contrast cinematography, candy colors and slick visuals, there only irritation is the music video-ish quick cutting. Still, here's an example of a movie where I just didn't care, though: I had no interest in any of the characters or what was going on. It may look great, but so what?
VIDEO: "Torque" is presented by Warner Brothers in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality appears to show the intended look of the film - pumped-up colors, crystal-clear detail and a very stylized overall appearance. Sharpness and detail are, once again, quite good, as the image maintained a consistent level of definition.
Edge enhancement did appear in slight amounts during a few moments and the film's intended appearance did include some minor grain, but aside from that, the picture appeared clean and clear. The film's amped-up colors could appear a bit muddy at times, but mostly appeared bright and well-saturated.
SOUND: "Torque"'s Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was a full-on assault from frame 1. While the soundtracks of films like "The Fast and the Furious" were also quite aggressive, there was an art to how they highlighted their moments of creative sound design and occasionally gave the audience something of a rest. There's nothing subtle about this soundtrack, which is wall-to-wall metal music, squealing tires and other effects. The dialogue, on the other hand, seems to be given the least concern, as it is often drowned out at least somewhat by everything else that's going on in the soundtrack. The expected deep bass is often present.
EXTRAS: Martin Henderson, Will Yun Lee, Monet Mazur Jay Hernadez, Matt Schulze, Adam Scott, Fredro Starr, Justina Machado and Dane Cook provide one commentary, while the other is a technical commentary from director Joseph Kahn, director of photography Peter Levy, visual effects supervisor Eric Durst, editor David Blackburn, supervising sound editor Tim Gedemer, writer Matt Johnson, 2nd unit director Gary Davis, and production designer Peter Hampton. We also get two storyboard/scene comparisons, a music video and the film's trailer.
Final Thoughts: Popcorn movies are great fun when done right, but I just had no interest in this one. Warner Brothers still has pulled together a fine enough DVD edition, with very good audio/video quality and a surprising amount of extras, given the film's box office performance. Not recommended.