Release Date:  January 16, 2004

Rating:  PG-13 (for violence, sexuality, language and drug references)

Genre:  Action/Crime/Drama

Director:  Joseph Kahn

Actors:  Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur, Adam Scott, Matt Schulze, Jaime Pressly and Jay Hernandez

Review:  With its first major motorcycle movie since "Easy Rider" in 1969, Hollywood invites us to take a ride on the wild side with Warner Brother’s latest film, "Torque."

When biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson) finds himself in possession of several drug-filled motorcycles, he knows he’s in trouble. So he locks up the bikes, skips town and abandons his girlfriend Shane (Monet Mazur), leaving her to face the cops. Now Ford is home, and drug dealer Henry wants his stuff back. So he frames Ford for the death of Junior, younger brother of kingpin Trey (Ice Cube).

With a little help from his friends, Ford thinks he can prove his innocence, win Shane back and turn Henry into the authorities. He has to outrun two vengeful bike gangs and the law to do it, though.

Cool stunts on high-powered, gorgeous bikes – including a chase scene atop a moving train and a lead actor who is poised to become the next big thing in Hollywood – make this film a visual thrill.

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT: "Torque"

 • = Mild  •• = Average 

••• = Heavy  •••• = Extreme


Adult Themes: 

Drugs/Alcohol Content:

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Language/Profanity:

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 Sexual Content/Nudity: 

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Violence: 

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More than 70 bikes were used for the production. In addition to Triumphs, Hondas and Yamahas, the film features four choppers built by Jesse James, a custom motorcycle designer who makes a cameo in the film (as a customer in Shane’s shop). James’ bikes, which he sells to the likes of Kid Rock, Keanu Reaves and Shaquille O’Neal, took 18 months to build and cost up to $150,000 each.

The showcase in "Torque" is the ultra fast, ultra expensive and extremely rare Y2K. Built by Marine Turbine Technologies in Louisiana, the Y2K sports a carbon-filled chassis built around an inverted Rolls Royce turbine jet engine that was originally designed to power a helicopter. The bike boasts more than 300 horsepower and 450 feet per pounds of torque, and goes from zero to 227 mph in just 15 seconds. Only ten of these bikes exist in the world, with just four in the U.S. 

With his unshaven, rugged good looks, Martin Henderson bears a striking resemblance to a young Kurt Russell. The latest among the ‘new wave’ of actors from Australia and New Zealand, Henderson was most recently seen in "The Ring" opposite Naomi Watts. His American accent is perfect, without a trace of Kiwi, and he does a decent job in "Torque" that far surpasses the other actors in the film. That isn’t especially difficult, however.

Director Joseph Kahn’s award-winning background in music videos (this is his first feature film) shows. Close-ups of bikes and woman’s anatomy abound. Girls rubbing up against other girls, a semi-clad couple in a hotel room, wind blowing up a woman’s skirt to reveal a garter belt and repeated shots of Shane’s thong peaking out of her jeans cater to men’s basest instincts.

While not extreme, there is fighting, a nightclub riot and a man being killed with a motorcycle chain. The language is typical for this sort of film, with numerous obscenities (no f-words) and profanities. The characters drink beer and a few smoke, but none appear to use drugs. Trey actually refuses to distribute Henry’s drugs, which ultimately costs his brother (who negotiated the original deal) his life. This offers a positive image for young black men. I also like what the film says about women, portraying Shane as smart, sassy and an astute businesswoman.

“I live my life one-quarter mile at a time,” Ford says. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” replies Shane, with touché confidence. Too bad she doesn’t insist on more of a commitment from her restless lover.

"Torque" pushes stereotypes, especially the biker one, implying that this crowd is filled with outlaws – something biker-enthusiasts are bound to resent. It also hammers the race issue, pitting whites against blacks. Trey and Ford are ultimately on the same side, but when the film ends, Trey warns Ford to stay out of his territory, enforcing the segregation between the two races. A sense of loneliness and isolation also underscores the camaraderie even within the gangs. After all, as the Boss says, everybody’s got a hungry heart. And fast bikes and pretty girls won’t satisfy that.

The film’s overt message – that we must do what’s right, even if that costs us relationships and freedom – is a good one. But the means portrayed to get to that goal aren’t very wise. Rather than facing the consequences of his choice to hang out with drug dealers (which landed him in trouble in the first place), Ford takes off and tries to prove his own innocence. He mistrusts authority, especially the law, which is portrayed as either incompetent or corrupt.

With its fights, language, drugs and sexuality, "Torque" is not for kids. According to the stunt bikers who were snickering after the screening, the film won’t fly with real motorcyclists, either. Far too many mistakes – like street-bike chases in the desert, where only dirt bikes can survive – mar the production. But, for anyone else wanting a high-speed adventure in leather, "Torque" will certainly do the job.