'Faster': Humdrum Grand Prix

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 17, 2004

I wonder if the ever-increasing multitudes of Moto GP (for Grand Prix) fans who watch this motorcycle racing sport would continue to do so if the risk of accidents weren't so gosh-darned high. The frequent crashes -- lovingly replayed in slo-mo in a new documentary called "Faster" -- certainly lend most of the excitement to a film of otherwise rather limited appeal about bikes going very, very fast around and around a track (nearly 200 mph on the straightaways). It's odd, though, just how much excitement can get sucked out of a 45-minute race by whittling it down to a couple of minutes or less of highlights.

In addition to focusing inordinately on the ever-present risk of broken bones or worse, "Faster" tries to inject some drama into the film by plugging a couple of ongoing driver rivalries, particularly between Italians Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi. Minus the ever-present danger, however, the film came across to this member of the non-fanboy community as a crashing (pun intended) bore. And that's despite the best efforts of its mostly European and at times unintelligible subjects to juice up the game by referring to themselves as "crazy," "out of our minds" or "not normal people" and by characterizing their bikes as "evil," "from another world" or of "a vicious nature." Full disclosure: I also find NASCAR racing one of the most mind-numbingly monotonous spectator sports on earth. Perhaps watching Moto GP in person, instead of in the movie theater or on TV, I'd be able to feel the awesome power and adrenaline rush that obviously addicts its driven practitioners. But as cinema, "Faster" is a loud, choppily edited and surprisingly unengaging portrait of speed demons.

FASTER (PG-13, 103 minutes) -- Contains some obscenity and numerous motorcycle accidents. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company