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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some intense crash sequences

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
Drama, Action
1 hr. 56 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 27, 2001 (wide)
Relevant Issues
Til Schweiger, Sylvester Stallone and Kip Pardue in “Driven”

“win at any cost” philosophy



Featuring: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Kip Pardue, Gina Gershon, Til Schweiger
Director: Renny Harlin
Producer: Elie Samaha, Renny Harlin, Sylvester Stallone
Distributor: Warner Brothers

There is a lot that is familiar in this “formula” film about Formula-One racing cars. It is however a decent matinee or popcorn flick, that is if you like to watch fast cars, big explosions, and eye-popping car crashes. Veteran action-genre Director Renny Harlin does not let us down. Just when you think you have seen every possible way to film this type of action, Harlin delivers unique new “effect” angles (many computer generated). it’s one thing to have the technology—and another thing to craft it into a “hard-driving” edge-of-your-seat adventure. Race fans will also appreciate the brief tour of racing tracks from around the world.

Scene from “Driven”I must confess I liked this latest action effort from Sylvester Stallone. Stallone, who stars in and wrote the screenplay for this “Driven”, is very generous on the screen with the other actors in the film. This time Stallone plays a race car driver, Joe Tanto, who is called out of retirement to help an old friend, Carl Henry (played by Burt Reynolds). Burt is the wheelchair-bound owner of the race car team who has a “win at any cost” philosophy. Both Stallone and Reynolds do their part with seasoned professionalism. The stereotypical characters are not overdone, and it is easy to buy into their roles.

Rising star Kip Pardue (“Remember The Titans”) is the up-and-coming rookie named Jimmy Bly. He is the latest racing phenomenon to win races against the field of veterans. Kip’s part seems to be following the path of Tom Cruise, who went from football player in “All the Right Moves” to “Days of Thunder”. Jimmy hits a slump and Joe tries to help him through a difficult time.

Estella Warren plays the part of Sophia. She is dumped by the current champ Beau Brandenburg (Til Schweiger). It isn’t long before Jimmy becomes a participant in the love triangle. This is one of the plot points that is very surprising. Jimmy shows a lot of respect for Sophia. In fact, parents will be pleased with the fact that this film contains no sex.

There are also some great themes like teamwork and sacrifice, giving “Driven” a much higher “moral fiber” rating than year-2000 disaster “Gone In 60 Seconds”.

Characters here do seem to care about one another, and the competition that makes the film is more of a competitive nature than sinister.

On the down side, there is some brief language and some brief shots of scantly-clad women. Alcohol is also abused to some degree, and there is a dangerous scene of cars racing through the city streets of Chicago. Definitely not to be emulated.

Overall, “Driven” does well all the way to the finish line. Parents can give their younger teens the “green flag” on this one without too many reservations.

Viewer Comments
I was relieved to find a networked plot and some interesting character development. There were a few loose ends or inconsistencies in these developments. The effects were dynamic, although the cars flew a little too high, too often for reality. This was the “Crouching Tiger” of sports movies. Far, far too many shots of women in the crowd vying for attention. Where were all the normal guys in jeans and caps who actually attend these events? The film was subtly educational for kids who are considering racing as a profession.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—CL, age 42
When I saw the previews for Driven, I thought, “Wow! This looks like a great movie!” When I went to see it I was very disappointed with the script. The acting was great, the crash scenes were awesome (may scare younger viewers), and hardly any vulgarity or language. Maybe 5 s-words would be enough to scare parents from letting their children go to the movie, but other than that, there’s only a couple other curses and maybe two or three misuses of God’s name. For once one of Sly’s movies aren’t totally focused on him (it’s focused on Kip Pardue, or Jimmy in the movie). Overall, a fair movie that lacks script. I recommend ages 10+.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Joseph Winkle, age 21
Sure, the action was there, the talent was there, the camera angles and music… all mixing together to brew this big pot of a great film, right? ONE MAJOR MISSING INGREDIENT… WHERE WAS THE SCRIPT? Sorry, Sly, the writing in this one was enough to gag.
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—Lori Lundquist, age 27
While this is not the best movie as a whole, it supplies great, exciting racing action and is still decent outside of the action. The racing scenes in the movie are great. Some of the visual effects are very cool, fairly new and unused techniques. Do not expect to be bored. The very beginning of the movie is packed together and fairly poor, but after that it turned into a good flick with little objectional content. Not a lot of profanity and no sex. The car crashes are intense and incredible to watch.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Alex, age 17
As a racing enthusiast I was greatly looking forward to Sly’s latest film. He has a nac for creating the “Hero” type story and even if you know who will win he still has you cheering for them. I was impressed with the attitude presented by Sly’s character, a “has been” driver who is brought in to help a young driver struggling with pressure and fame. Sly’s character is a driver who has burned a lot of bridges and made a lot of mistakes in the past and is still paying for them. He has since “grown up” and shows a genuine concern for his fellow racers well being. What some may find objectionable is the short and testy appearances of Sly’s ex-wife (now the wife of another driver) and the girl friend swap of the 2 main characters (the girl eventually swaps back after Sly’s advice to boyfriend #1 to crawl if necessary to get her back). No sex scenes. As for the PG-13 rating—their is a very juvenile scene where a woman in her mid 30’s slips another woman the bird by rubbing her eye. Sometimes you miss language when you first see a movie, but that is as objectional as I can recall. Overall, if you are a father who would like to enjoy a movie with your son—this one would probably fit the bill.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Jesse Bryant, age 27
Decent movie, worth the five bucks. If the cg was better I would have given it a 4 ½. I don’t remember any profanity but the finger is given in it. No sex scenes or anything.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Jared, age 15
…The camera showed the crowds that one would typically see at a raceway. Yes, there was some shots of women in short shorts… perhaps 20… as for the language—there were NO F-words, Thank God! And there was 4 uses of the “a” word. The Lord’s name was used improperly twice. And a female used the “b” word under her breathe. SO for a macho type adrenaline driven racing movie, I think Stallone has done what he did with the “Rocky” Movies; made a story about the human heart and not selling out to sex and vulgarity. There were no sex scenes, not even implied ones. No nudity. You see the best in each character and there are no real villains except our own ability to ignore “will and faith”, as Sly’s character put it. I loved this movie!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Mike Gordon, age 30
Movie Critics
…Slow motion crashes and driver’s-eye views of the race may attract race fans but others will wonder how Stallone got financing for this soap opera on wheels…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…exciting car crashes… but its banal story weighs it down, along with its tepid social commentary…
—Robert Ara Svihla, PopMatters