A surprise like few others, "The World's Fastest Indian" received little notice this last December despite starring Anthony Hopkins, and had some pretty lame and awkward previews that had me expecting a cheesy, melodramatic biopic. Amazingly, "The World's Fastest Indian" is an entertaining, interesting and well-acted dramedy that works from beginning to end.
Based on the journey of Burt Munro, who traveled from his homeland of New Zealand to the Utah flatlands to break a world land speed record despite having little knowledge of the outside world or any money, "The World's Fastest Indian" is directed by Roger Donaldson, who also directed the documentary this movie is based on, "Offerings to the God of Speed," way back in 1971 (which is also served up as a bonus feature on the DVD). While by no means an Oscar winner, Donaldson is obviously having fun with a subject he's passionate about, as the movie follows the quirky lead character from one event to another, almost always with unique characters, to the eventual climax, where Munro breaks the world record.
Hopkins single-handedly dominates the movie, and delivers his best performances in years. It isn't the most dramatic of roles, but the quirky, oddball character is a standout performance for him. He hardly plays an oddball hero such as this, and you can barely recognize him in the role.
Those looking for a lot of "racing" action will be disappointed, but when Hopkins actually is riding his motorcycle, the scenes are top notch. Donaldson captures the sense of speed quite well.
"The World's Fastest Indian" isn't out to set any film records, but it is a well-done, well-acted little drama that has few, if any, major flaws. Recommended, despite the garbage previews.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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