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Review byMatthew Turner10/08/2001

Two out of five stars
Running time: 117 mins

Scripted by Stallone, this is basically Rocky-with-cars and remains just about watchable thanks to its support cast and some impressive CGI and stunt-work.

Unfortunately, Driven isn’t quite bad enough to truly merit the "Driven? Drivel, more like"-type jokes it’s been receiving elsewhere.

However, it’s fair to say that in terms of racecar movies, it’s had its thunder squarely stolen by the superior The Fast and the Furious, which trounces it soundly where all-out Friday night enjoyment is concerned.

Still, if you’re a fan of a) fast cars, b) Burt Reynolds’s toupee, or c) Estella Warren (the immaculately-turned-out slave-girl from Planet of the Apes), then you may well get a kick out of this.

Sylvester Stallone makes a return to scriptwriting with Driven, which is presumably something of a long-cherished project for him, particularly as the structure so closely echoes Rocky, Stallone’s last script-writing success.

Thankfully, however, he’s had the good sense to cast himself in the Burgess Meredith role (though naturally, he still gets his fair share of driving in).

Stallone plays Joe Tanto, a past-it Formula One driver, re-hired by his ex-boss (a wheelchair-bound Burt Reynolds) to straighten out talented young rookie driver Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue, an tousled blonde pretty-boy actor with a more ridiculous name than his character).

Bly’s main competition is frosty teutonic champion Beau Brandenberg (Til Schweiger), and things get a little more complicated when Brandenberg dumps his long-standing girlfriend (Estella Warren), claiming she’s a ‘distraction’, which pushes her gently in Bly’s direction.

Not to be outdone, Stallone writes himself two separate love-interests: bitchy ex-wife Gina Gershon and adoring journalist Stacey Edwards…

Not surprisingly, it’s plotting-by-numbers straight down the line and there are no prizes for guessing how it all turns out. What matters, then, is the quality of the racing scenes, and thankfully director Harlin (who worked with Stallone on Cliffhanger) delivers nicely, courtesy of some jaw-dropping CGI crash sequences and some impressive stunt driving work.

The script may not be up to much, but there’s always something worth looking at, whether it’s the cars, the girls or Burt’s amusing collection of facial accoutrements.

The acting is about what you’d expect. Neither Burt nor Stallone make any particular effort, so it’s up to the supporting cast to deliver the surprises.

Robert Sean Leonard stands out as Pardue’s manager-brother, Gershon gets all the best lines, Schweiger gets a surprisingly effective crying scene and Estella Warren gets to do an entirely gratuitous swimming sequence, just like she did in Planet of the Apes - she used to be a swimming champion and the scenes are apparently written into her contract.

In fact, the dialogue in the swimming scene ("What are you doing?" "Swimming." "Swimming?" "Yes. Swimming") is so laughably awful that it’s almost worth seeing the film for that alone.

Basically, if you’re a fan of undemanding, testosterone-fuelled racecar movies, then this has your name on it. Otherwise, it’s just about watchable – not a disaster by any means, but nothing special either.

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Content updated: 18/12/2018 23:54

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