Genre: Drama Running Time: 2 hrs. 7 min.
Release Date: March 24th, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Roger Donaldson Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Williams, Paul Rodriguez, Saginaw Grant, Diane Ladd, Juliana Bellinger, Bruce Greenwood, Walton Goggins, Jessica Cauffiel
urt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) from Invercargill, New Zealand, has spent most of his life building and upgrading his motorcycles. His dream is to take his 1920 Indian brand motorcycle to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where he aims to set the world record for land speed. As something of a hometown legend, he’s already set records in New Zealand and Australia, but the United States provides a new territory for him to make a mark – and the Salt Flats are renowned for testing the limits of speed machines. What he lacks in funds and equipment, he makes up for in determination; once he begins his journey halfway around the world, nothing will stop him from entering the race.
As these lighthearted pictures go, Munro quickly encounters a slew of initial setbacks, ranging from damage to his motorcycle, limited monetary resources, and even his own failing health (he’s in his 60s, meaning that his relic of a bike is younger). Plus, the people and the politics of America aren’t always accommodating (not unlike Crocodile Dundee’s misadventures in the big city), particularly as he must start off in Los Angeles, where an affordable cargo ship docks. Fortunately, his charismatic personality and unsinkable resolve manage to ferret out a solution for every hurdle, big or small. He’s also quite the genius when it comes to mechanical tinkering.
Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the movie is the multitude of personages Munro meets during his odyssey, and the way they interact with the spirited foreigner. From a cross-dressing hotel clerk to an eccentric widow in the desert to cynical race officials, each character recognizes Burt’s passion, and is eventually moved to help him achieve his dream. Hopkins’ performance, infused with an endearing, happy-go-lucky charm, easily drives the film, routinely engaging in sequences that will have audiences audibly cheering. He’s the kind of underdog who is never pathetic, which makes his accomplishments just that much more appealing. Plus, those who knew the real-life Munro claim that Hopkins’ portrayal was astonishingly accurate, despite differences in accent and a few embellishments by director Roger Donaldson (this was a production close to his heart, as he’d been interested in crafting a feature film based on Munro’s feats for nearly 20 years), who knows how to use creative license for uplifting entertainment – such as during the Bonneville finale itself, which is a composite of Munro’s various runs.
“The World’s Fastest Indian” is indeed a feel-good movie. It’s fun, straightforward, and enjoyable. Its simplicity and predictability are its only downfalls; most of the conflicts are a little anticlimactic and never very severe or shocking, which serve the style and tone well, but fail to generate a deep, emotional impact. Audiences will surely know how the film concludes, regardless of their knowledge of history – though there’s never a doubt as to who should come out on top. Still, the pacing and structuring of this biographical sports drama ensure that no dull moments intervene while arriving there.
– The Massie Twins