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Written and Directed by Mark Neale
Narrated by Ewan McGregor
103 minutes, color, stereo, standard aspect ratio
All regions compatible
Photo by webBikeWorld

FASTER was produced during the 2001 and 2002 MotoGP world championship motorcycle racing series, and is an attempt at bringing the excitement and adventure of this incredible sport to the masses.  It claims to be the “definitive story of motorcycle racing at the highest level…”.

I’m a huge fan of MotoGP racing, which is probably the best and most exciting motorsport racing series anywhere in the world (especially compared to the boring Formula 1 series, which I also follow).  I think the story of MotoGP definitely needs to be told.  Unfortunately, this DVD doesn’t do it.

It’s really too bad, because there probably won’t be very many chances for the general public to learn about MotoGP via film. Investors may only try once to test the waters and see how the public responds, and if this film doesn’t make a profit, we may not see the definitive MotoGP story on film for a very long time, if ever.

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There is so very much that could have been told about this sport, and a film about the MotoGP series could have been made so much more exciting.  Anyone who has followed the series over the last couple of years knows what a fantastic subject MotoGP racing would be for film.

Maybe the budget for this production just wasn’t big enough to do justice to the subject.  There are a couple of problems; the movie was made just at the end of the two-stroke MotoGP era, even before the series was referred to as “MotoGP”.  So it’s immediately old news; after all, with everything that’s been happening in the incredible four-stroke MotoGP series over the last couple of years, who wants to hear about 500cc oil burners and one washed-up rider?

The movie also doesn’t have a consistent theme flowing through it to hold the viewer’s interest.  It’s more like a few scenarios touching on a couple of somewhat unrelated and secondary issues, rather than “the definitive story of motorcycle racing at the highest level”.  It doesn’t really develop any excitement up front that captures one’s interest and motivation to want to learn more.  It also suffers from a typical problem with films of this type; i.e., films that attempt to explain a sport or technology that is somewhat obscure and esoteric to an audience who doesn’t know anything about it.  MotoGP terminology, background and racing issues aren’t discussed, so unless the viewer knows about the series, it’s hard to understand what the narrator is talking about.

An example of the rather disjointed story line is the time spent with Rossi, Biaggi and Loris Capirossi driving in cars while talking to the camera.  I’m not sure, but I assume that this segment is meant to generate excitement about the Rossi vs. Biaggi battle, but a non-MotoGP fan would not understand the background from the dialog.  This segment adds nothing to the film, not to mention the obvious question: why is the camera filming them as they are driving cars?

In an unsuccessful attempt to try and capture the interest of the non-MotoGP audience, the director spends far too much time at the beginning of the film focused on the television film series strategy of trying to capture viewer attention by focusing on accidents, broken bones and crash drama instead of using the valuable time in the beginning of the film to tell the real story and history of MotoGP racing.

The film then moves on to the hyped-for-the-media Rossi vs. Biaggi battle, which is more drama used in an unproductive way and which never really goes anywhere.  There are endless repeats of the Rossi/Biaggi “elbow” incident, which is interesting but way too repetitive in the film.  There’s a chapter on the 2001 Catalunya GP, but which leaves out virtually all narration so that the rookie viewer doesn’t even know what’s happening.  The silence is supposed to add tension to the segment, but instead it seems to be some random TV footage of the race spliced into the film.

Viewers should know that the movie was made in cooperation with Dorna, the owners of the MotoGP franchise, and almost all the track footage is made up of clips from TV coverage, and it’s obvious that the movie was made around the leftover film, rather than writing the story and then filming to match.

There’s a little bit on Garry McCoy, whose MotoGP career never really went anywhere and who, as of this writing, has been relegated to a second-string World Superbike ride.   Then there’s a quick cut to a segment on John Hopkins, which basically has nothing to do with the rest of the film and almost seems like it was directed by someone else and spliced into the film to add some content.  I can hear the Director saying “Hey, John Hopkins is new and he’s from the U.S., let’s throw some film in there in case he gets hot over the next year”.  There’s no tie at all to John Hopkins and the rest of the story; what does a few minutes about a young and not very good back-marker rider have to do with the real story of MotoGP?  Again, the non-MotoGP audience couldn’t care less.

I previewed the movie with a mixed audience of MotoGP and non-MotoGP fans, and no one liked it, nor did the non-MotoGP fans understand the series or the passion any more after the film than they did before it.

The bottom line is that MotoGP racing is probably one of the most incredible, action-packed motorsport racing series on the planet, but this movie doesn’t come close to doing it justice.  Hopefully someone will do it up right sometime soon.

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