THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN
**** (out of 5)
February 17, 2006
Anthony Hopkins as BURT MUNRO
Jessica Cauffiel as WENDY
Saginaw Grant as JAKE
Diane Ladd as ADA
Christopher Lawford as JIM
Aaron Murphy as TOM
Paul Rodriguez as FERNANDO
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Directed by: Roger Donaldson
BY KEVIN CARR
I had no idea what to expect from “The World’s Fastest Indian.” I’ve never been much into sports, and motorsports got even less attention from me. So the name Burt Munro meant absolutely nothing to me.
Even going into the screening, I didn’t know much about the movie. I knew it starred Anthony Hopkins. I knew that it was about a land-speed race. I knew that it was a very personal journey. That’s about it.
Sometimes, going into a film knowing nothing about it can be liberating. If the film is terrible, you really haven’t lost anything but time. There would be no anticipation, so there would be little disappointment. However, if the film is good, it’s a gem. It’s a treat.
Such was the case with “The World’s Fastest Indian.”
This film tells the story of New Zealander Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins), a mechanic who customized a motorcycle into a speeding bullet. His dream is to take it to the Great Salt Flats in Nevada and try to set a new land-speed record. However, New Zealand is a long way from Nevada, and Munro must get there first.
Along the way, he keeps running into obstacles – a broken crate at the shipyards, a busted-down car, losing his trailer on the road, forgetting to register for the race. The movie really isn’t about land-speed records, and it isn’t about motorcycles. Instead, it’s about a man following his dream and not taking no for an answer.
“The World’s Fastest Indian” follows Munro through his struggles, which he always seems to get through with his jovial personality and clever wit. It’s a feel-good movie in the classic sense of the term. There are no villains in this story. The filmmakers didn’t see fit to make the evil racer to juxtapose against Munro. Rather, his struggles come from the way of the world. The closest we get to a villain is a crabby mechanic who threatens to fail the Indian’s tech inspection.
Anthony Hopkins turns out a beautiful performance as Burt Munro. There was buzz at one time that he might get some nominations, but he didn’t get any. It could have been because the film was released from such a small studio. Or it could be that there are no gay cowboys or struggling musicians in the movie. It’s a shame that Hopkins didn’t get even a nod from somewhere else, because he definitely deserved it.
The biggest problem with the movie is that it can be too sweet at times. It’s one of those films that you have to let yourself get swept up in. Otherwise, you’ll become cynical and poke holes in how easily things work out, even when it looks bad.
Not knowing the history of Burt Munro, I can’t say how accurate it is to the real man. Apparently, Munro’s kids were emotionally affected by how well Hopkins portrayed their father.
Going into “The World’s Fastest Indian” with a clean slate was a great way to do it. I was pleasantly surprised.