Directed by: Roger Donaldson
Premise: The true story of Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins), a New Zealand motorcycle racer who traveled to the Utah Salt Flats in 1967 in an attempt to set a new land speed world record.
What Works: The World’s Fastest Indian is a great deal of fun. The story is structured as a road trip film, as Munro transports his 1920 Indian motorcycle from New Zealand to Utah, and along the way the film manages to incorporate a textured character study. The films has some a very interesting themes, as Munro’s Thoreau-like sensibilities run into conflict with the rising culture of bureaucracy in the United States. Hopkins delivers the kind of excellent performance that we have come to expect from him and in this film he turns up his charms. His appeal as the driven but naïve outsider saves the movie in some respects.
What Doesn’t: As a road trip picture, The World’s Fastest Indian suffers from some of this genre’s weaknesses, namely that the story becomes very episodic and lacks a consistent narrative line. The point of the film is Munro’s quest, but the stops along the journey don’t always contribute to the narrative, although they do make the film more colorful.
DVD extras: Commentary track, featurettes, Offerings to the God of Speed documentary film, and deleted scenes.
Bottom Line: The World’s Fastest Indian is very nice little picture. It is far from perfect but it is very charming and has the kind of appeal that makes it a fun Saturday matinee.
Episode: #108 (September 3, 2006)