Driven

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Driven
Driven (2001 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Renny Harlin
Produced by Renny Harlin
Elie Samaha
Sylvester Stallone
Screenplay by Sylvester Stallone[1]
Story by Jan Skrentny
Neal Tabachnick
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Burt Reynolds
Kip Pardue
Til Schweiger
Gina Gershon
Estella Warren
Cristian de la Fuente
Music by BT
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Edited by Steve Gilson
Stuart Levy
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • 27 April 2001 (2001-04-27)
Running time
116 minutes[2]
Country United States
Canada
Australia
Language English
German
Spanish
Budget $72 million[3]
Box office $54,744,738[4]

Driven is a 2001 action drama film directed by Renny Harlin and starring Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote and produced. It centers on a young racing driver's effort to win the Champ Car World Series auto racing championship. Prior to production of the movie, Stallone was seen at many Formula 1 races, but he was unable to procure enough information about the category due to the secrecy with which teams protect their cars, so he decided to base the film on Champ Car.

Plot[edit]

Halfway through the Champ Car season, rookie driver Jimmy Bly has already won 5 races. His brother/business manager Demille is seems more concerned with working out endorsement deals and press engagements than racing, putting tremendous pressure upon Jimmy. His success has also drawn the ire of the reigning champion and series points leader Beau Brandenburg, who believes he's not doing as well as he should because of his fiancée Sophia becoming "a distraction". He breaks up the engagement and he regains his winning ways.

As Brandenburg returns to form, Bly's wheelchair-using team owner Carl Henry is concerned that Bly is becoming more prone to driving errors. He sees parallels to his former driver and Champ Car Champion, Joe Tanto, whom he convinces to come out of retirement to mentor Jimmy. Joe agrees and is brought in to replace Jimmy's teammate, Memo Moreno. To complicate matters, Joe's ex-wife Cathy Heguy is now married to Memo, the driver that Joe replaced. Despite all this, Joe and Memo are still friends.

Joe's comeback race is extremely close, with Jimmy leading and Brandenburg a close second. Jimmy can't seem to pull away from him so Carl orders Joe to pit and holds him there until the leaders are about to come by, despite Joe's protests. At the last second, Joe leaves the pit just in time to block out Brandenburg, allowing Jimmy to win the race. Jimmy's brother/manager takes a dislike to Joe's mentoring, implying that Joe should just act as a blocker. After the race, Joe urges Brandenburg to reconcile with Sophia because she has started an affair with Jimmy, which is casing him to further lose his form on the track, resulting in Jimmy crashing out in Japan.

At a party in Chicago, where the prototypes of next year's cars are being introduced, Brandenburg gives Sophia her ring back, apologizes for his behavior towards her, and they reconcile, much to Jimmy's indignation. Sophia apologizes to Jimmy, but he is so upset that he takes one of the new cars and races it out of the convention center. Joe hops into another of the new cars and chases him down the streets of Chicago, eventually bring Jimmy back to his senses after they stop driving. In the coming race in Germany, Carl decides that bringing back Joe isn't getting the results he wants, so he reinstates Jimmy's original teammate Moreno while making Joe mentor Jimmy from the pit lane.

In the next race it's another close one with Jimmy and Brandenburg fighting it out for first. Bly needs one more win to take the championship, and Moreno is instructed to block for Jimmy, and keep out of his way. Cathy gets on the radio and convinces Memo to go for the win, and, as a result, he collides with Bly in a horrific crash that sends him flying through the air and crashing into a lake on the far end of the course. Jimmy does a quick u-turn and drives his car to the lake and dives in after him. Brandenburg does the same and the two of them rescue Memo just as a burning tree having caught fire in the crash collapses into the burning car igniting the fuel on top of the water and it explodes.

Carl, angered by Jimmy's decision to stop and rescue Moreno instead of fighting on for the championship argues with Joe who was examining what's left of Memo's car. He decides to replace Jimmy with Brandenburg for the coming season and negotiates a deal with Jimmy's brother who will now represent Brandenburg. Demille tries to get Brandenburg to sign the new contract but he rips it up and Sophia punches Demille in the face for the way he treated her previously. With Memo now hospitalized, Joe is racing again as Jimmy's teammate. Initially, Jimmy was barred from competing due to an foot injury he sustained while rescuing Memo but Carl finally decides to clear him for the race after Jimmy passes Carl's strength test.

At the final race of the year in Detroit, Jimmy and Brandenburg are contenders for the championship. In the final laps, Joe has taken the lead but by avoiding an accident, goes flying through the air, landing safely but damaging his front suspension. He can no longer contend for the win and the two leaders pass him on the final lap. It's neck and neck coming down to the finish. Jimmy is starting to have a mental lapse, but then he hears Joe's words of wisdom and in a long slow motion sequence, we see Jimmy beating Brandenburg by just a few inches as Joe crosses in third while doing doughnuts in his now out of control car due to its damaged suspension breaking. Jimmy is the new champion and he, Tanto and Brandenburg, celebrate together on the podium drinking champagne.

Cast[edit]

Cameo appearances

Montoya, Gugelmin & Blundell lent their car and helmet likeness to Brandenburg, Tanto and Bly respectively, Blundell's helmet being suitably changed from an "MB" logo to "JB".

Production[edit]

Stallone had originally intended to make a film based on Formula One, attending the 1997 Italian Grand Prix[5] and stating his goal in a press conference. However the plan to base the film on F1 was dropped.

The film was shot primarily in Montreal, Canada in the summer of 2000 as well as at a variety of worldwide races which were sanctioned by CART.

Matt Hullum of Rooster Teeth Productions fame was the visual effects producer.[6]

The film premiere took place at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, with several CART competitors driving and demonstrating pit stops in modified Champ Cars down Hollywood Blvd.

According to director Renny Harlin's commentary, his first cut of the movie was 4 hours long. Only 51 minutes of deleted footage was included as special feature on DVD.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film was a commercial failure, and grossed only $32 million against a $72 million budget.[7] This poor performance ended a modestly successful recovery (with 1999 film Deep Blue Sea and 1996 film The Long Kiss Goodnight) from director Harlin's critical and financial failure Cutthroat Island. However, it was Stallone's first #1 opening film since Cop Land.[8]

Critical response[edit]

The film received poor reviews, with a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus saying "Underdeveloped characters, silly plot dynamics, and obvious CG effects." When Jay Leno appeared as a guest critic on the television show Ebert & Roeper, both Leno and Richard Roeper described Driven as the worst car film ever made, and a terrible depiction of auto racing.

It also earned seven nominations at the 22nd Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple (Burt Reynolds and Sylvester Stallone) and twice for Worst Supporting Actor (Reynolds and Stallone), with Estella Warren winning Worst Supporting Actress (also for Planet of the Apes).

The film was equally poorly received within the motorsport media, where it was criticised for its outlandish plots, overstated crash scenes, unrealistic racing scenes, and characters and plots that are clearly remnants of the original Formula 1 version of the film.[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]