Cronenberg bores Jarv shitless: Fast Company
This film is garbage. I thought Rabid would be the worst film in Cronenberg’s filmography, being as that is also rubbish, but this terrible wart of a film sits there glaring malevolently at me. It doesn’t even feel like a Cronenberg film. In fact, what it feels like is some sort of god-awful lifestyle movie of the week; some sort of shitty and ill-conceived biopic of a redneck drag racing icon.
William Smith plays Lonnie “Lucky Man” Johnson. One of the most humourless and charmless asspickles ever to drive a rocket car in a straight line. He drives for Fastco, and is supported by his loyal mechanics, up and coming young driver and professional horndog Billy (Nicholas Campbell), and in dispute with cost cutting cardboard villain Phil Adamson (John Saxon). They travel round North America driving something called, without a shred of irony, a “funny car” in a straight line for a crowd of literally dozens of bored fans. They also fight with Phil, and Lonnie is having some sort of dispute that transcends boredom with number 2 driver Gary “The Blacksmith” Smith.
I feel like a bit of a bastard here, because I’m going to give Fast Company a monumental kicking and I don’t want to do that to a Cronenberg film. This could, honestly, have been directed by absolutely anyone- it doesn’t contain a single Cronenberg theme, and there’s none of his directorial touches. It’s crushingly dull, but to be fair I’ve got an inkling that this is because it’s about drag racing, and clearly nothing on the planet is as boring as watching 2 cars go in a straight line. He really emphasis this by having sequence after sequence of cars revving and revving then going forward for a quarter-mile. It’s massively boring and irritating. Later Cronenberg would at least have had Lonnie go and savagely mount one of the groupies every time he makes the car explode (which is a few), but even that concession to weirdness is beyond Dave at this stage.
A huge amount of the problems, in a film with more problems than a 13-year-old schizophrenic goth with a penchant for cutting herself, come from the sub-par contradictory script. For example, we know that Phil is a nefarious corporate bastard because we see him take a bribe for having Lonnie appear at some redneck track, and yet he spends the rest of the film trying to get Lonnie fired. Is Lonnie his meal ticket or not? Or how about that early on Phil states that he doesn’t give a fuck about winning, and yet he spends the 2nd half of the film trying to arrange it so the new Fastco driver, Gary, wins. Which is it, Phil, do you care about winning or not?
Then there’s the acting, which is shit. William Smith is a charisma vacuum as Lonnie, John Saxon radiates the evil of a sedated Care Bear, Campbell is at least having a bit of fun, but he should do really, being as he spends most of the film persuading random women to take their tops off then pouring Fastco oil over their naked tits, which is probably meant to be some sort of cutting critique of corporate America, but is really just an excuse for gratuitous oiling of breasts. And, in a testament to how boring and annoying the film is, even Billy’s Jugg related antics grew tiresome after a while.
The score is fucking awful. It’s some kind of poor (as in destitute and giving hand jobs for crack poor) man’s Bruce Springsteen wailing a series of fucking terrible specially commissioned soft rock anthems. Aside from “the music” the rest of the film consists of loud motor noises. Cracking folio work there, I don’t think.
Really, though, the problem with this film is that it is ridiculously dull. Monumentally dull. I just didn’t give a monkey’s about the “conflict” because there just wasn’t any. Lonnie wanders round like he’s in the process of having a fucking stroke, Billy whines petulantly about how it’s his turn to get the “glory” of driving (quite what glory there is driving a shitty car 12 feet in front of 7 deaf retards is lost on me), Gary glowers in the background, and Phil keeps being up to no good, but in a really dull way.
The problem is, as I’ve said above, Drag Racing is a (for want of a better word) sport that only the most stupid banjo-playing result of inter-family marriage could find interesting. Cars go in a straight line. One occasionally explodes to enliven the boredom, but nobody ever gets hurt. However, mostly cars just go in a straight line. They drive up to the mark, rev a lot, drive forward a wee bit, then reverse, rev a bit more, drive forward a bit again, then reverse, rev a bit more, then the race starts and they go really quickly in a straight line (no chance of overtaking because they’re in different lanes) before deploying a parachute to stop. Crowd goes wild, Jarv looks at Mrs. Jarv who has a face that promises severe retribution if film doesn’t improve. Film fails to improve.
Overall, this is a very, very bad film. It’s crushingly dull, annoyingly simple and represents another enormous step back for Cronenberg. It’s painful watching, there is nary a shred of interest and if I didn’t know better then I’d suspect that he’d done it purely for the paycheck. Christ knows what he was thinking of. I can’t bring myself to “Murph” a Cronenberg film, so I’m hauling the dreaded Orangutan of Doom out of retirement:
Damn you Dave, this bucket of shit has condemned me to Sex and the City 2 in the next few days. Thanks, mate.
Thank fuck I’m now through the first “shit period” as next up is his first borderline great film: The Brood.
Until next time,