World’s Fastest Indian

Movie Review by Toby White

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Diane Ladd, Paul Rodriguez, Aaron Murphy

Director: Roger Donaldson

Here’s a refreshing change. A movie that does nothing that it says on the tin. At least nothing you’d expect; no one runs and there are no Indians in it. And it’s not a reference to a fast take-away delivery service. So why, THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN? Well, the Indian in question is a motorcycle that broke the land speed record in its class in 1967. “Still not that thrilling”, I hear you say. What’s fantastic about it is that this particular motorcycle and its rider travelled across the world and broke this record when they should both have been tucked up with their pipe and slippers.

Hopkins plays Burt Munro, a retired motorcycle enthusiast from New Zealand who, tinkering away at his pride and joy, the 1920 Indian, sets his sights on having a pop at the land speed record almost because at his age he’s got nothing better to do. The film charts his journey from Kiwi suburbia to Utah’s Salt Flats, taking in a host of quirky characters, mishaps and misfortunes as this wide-eyed local yokel crosses the big, wide world.

With such simplicity to it – one almost sees every situation Burt getting into and out of just too convenient – you would think that there would be too much predictability to this film. After all, it obeys the classic sport movie formula with the underdog triumphing against all the odds and, to an extent that’s true, it does, but in its simplicity is a wonderful truth and an honesty to it that makes it the heart-warming tale it is. There’s no complicated plot structure, no twists and it certainly doesn’t try to be clever. It’s sentimental without being saccharine and moving without being mawkish. Hopkins pitches the character perfectly and, reunited with director Donaldson for the first time since THE BOUNTY, it almost feels like it’s a picture made by two old boys doing something they love. It’s a simple, moving story that reminds us that anything is possible and nothing has to be as complicated as it seems.

4 out of 6 stars

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