Biker Cary Ford has returned to his hometown to reunite with his girlfriend Shane and take care of a little unfinished business. When he skipped town months ago, Ford was in possession of several motorcycles belonging to Henry, a ruthless drug dealer and leader of the Hellions biker gang. Now Henry's putting the squeeze on Ford in an attempt to retrieve the bikes, which have something a little more valuable than gas in their tanks. When Ford is less than willing to cooperate, Henry frames him for the murder of Junior, younger brother of Trey, the fearsome leader of the Reapers motorcycle gang. With the help of his loyal buddies Dalton and Val, Ford must outrun an FBI agent who's hot on his trail while eluding both the misinformed Trey, hell-bent on revenge, and the callous Henry, who's dead-set on getting back what is rightfully his. Racing across the desert in a perilous attempt to prove his innocence and convince Shane that he's worth a second chance, Ford must outrace his enemies if he wants to clear his name and live to ride another day.
This monotonously macho action-adventure film wears testosterone as if it were a new fragrance. The motorcycle-riding morons circle one another, hissing threats and flaring their nostrils as if they were about to lash their wrists together and break into a dance number reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video. They also do a lot of flexing and flashing of their tattoos — which look like wall appliqués for a particularly surly 6-year-old's bedroom — and seem to spend more time primping than Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie. Chief among these idiots is Ford (Martin Henderson), who's just returned from either a restful vacation in Thailand, or a flight there from his enemies. But he can't just ride around greater downtown Barstow on his bike or tune-up his misfiring relationship with his ex-girl Shane (Monet Mazur), a bike shop owner he abandoned. He's being stalked by the menacing motorcycle gang leader Henry (Matt Schulze), who runs a lucrative crystal Meth business. Ford has possession of some of Henry's drugs and he wants his valuable stash returned, or else. Henry has worked the competing gang leader Trey's bandanna into a knot; he tried to persuade Trey (Ice Cube) into joining the drug business, but he refused. Henry kills Trey's little brother and frames Ford for the crime. Now, in addition to Henry's boys, the police and Trey's squad also are out to put their hands on Ford, who has to slip past all of them to get to Los Angeles. Why? So the film can show its true colors as a tribute to Walter Hill's haiku of a gang action classic, "The Warriors," a movie that has less dialogue and far more wit than "Torque." — Elvis Mitchell
2004-01-16 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Torque