Warner Home Video
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Til Schweiger
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Featurette, Special Effects Featurette, Theatrical Trailer, Cast & Crew
"Driven" focuses on the world of Indy Car racing. Young rookie driver Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue) has one five races and has a chance at winning the championship. However, he then loses to Beau Brandenburg (Til Schweiger), his main competition. Fearing that Bly may be on the edge of blowing the season, team manager Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) calls driver Joe Tanto (Sylvester Stallone) out of retirement to help coach the kid. However, Tanto isn’t happy about this arrangement, as he feels that he can still win races. Also displeased, is Bly brother and manager Demille (Robert Sean Leonard), who feels that other people only want to corrupt Jimmy. It is now up to Jimmy Bly to decide if he can handle the pressures, which come along with being a top driver and find the strength within himself to win the championship.
However, "Driven" could have been much more. The film proves that Renny Harlin is, as usual, a gifted visual director. The racing scenes have a great look to them, especially a chase through the streets of Chicago. Harlin is able to squeeze a lot of kinetic energy out of the film, and the pace is quite brisk. By combining live races with CGI effects, Harlin is able to put the viewer right on the track. (He also puts us right in the face of every scantily-clad woman at the race track.) But, this brisk pace leaves the moving feeling very hollow and soulless. Of course, Harlin isn’t known for making incredibly emotional movies, but in the past, with efforts such as "Die Hard 2" and "Deep Blue Sea", there was enough excitement on-screen to forgive the lack of emotion (and often, logic.) Here, we only given quick peeks at the characters lives, therefore their actions seem very foreign and distant to us.
It would be very easy to blame all of this on the screenplay by Sylvester Stallone (based on a story by Jan Skrentny & Neal Tabachnick), but this DVD reveals that blame lies elsewhere. The DVD contains twelve deleted scenes (more on this in a moment) in which there is a great deal of dialogue and character development. It’s obvious that the filmmakers had three choices; 1) make a movie about racing; 2) make a movie about racers; or 3) make a 2 1/2 hour movie about both. While one can easily understand why the choice was made to go for the action film, the movie suffers for it. Would those deleted scenes have made the movie a classic? No, but they would’ve helped it make more sense. On a positive note, what little we do learn about the characters in "Driven" is interesting. No one fits the typical sports movie stereotypes here, and it’s not until the end where we actual get a true antagonist character. Many of the characters aren’t who they appear to be at first, and this does lend some drama to the film. "Driven" isn’t horrible, and fans of auto racing will surely enjoy it, but don’t expect to be challenged by the story.
The <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 channel> soundtrack on the "Driven" DVD, also does well in the race, but it does have some problems. I noticed some slight shifts in volume during the film, where the dialogue was, at times, drowned out by the sound effects. As expected, the sounds of passing racecars fills the speakers, with the engines producing a nice rumbling bass in the subwoofer. Also, "Driven" features a driving rock soundtrack, which also sounds great. Still, I found myself with remote control in hand, ready to adjust for the sometimes muffled dialogue.
"Conquering Speed Through Digital Effects" is a 10-minute featurette examining the CGI effects in "Driven". This short is somewhat interesting, but they spend too much time discussing a particular shot, which was ultimately deleted from the final film. I realize that these artists want credit for their work, but this goes on for about 5-minutes! Speaking of deleted scenes, the DVD contains the 12 cut scenes mentioned earlier, which run for a total of nearly 50 minutes. Stallone provides an introduction to these scenes, and they can be viewed with or without commentary from Sly. Again, these scenes are mostly dialogue scenes, but some are rather interesting. The extras are rounded out by the theatrical trailer and selected cast & crew bios.