Marshall Pruett’s Guide To Driven
It’s the worst racing movie ever made. So why not spend somewhere between 16 and 18 hours slogging through the two-hour film to document the comedy of errors and ineptitude for future generations in the first Driven Viewer’s Guide?
Like the movie written by and starring Sylvester Stallone and directed by his friend Renny Harlin about a fake 2000 CART IndyCar Series season, the desire to produce this guide makes zero sense. But here we are, some 23 pages and nearly 12,228 words fired into a Word document later. Factor in the time to edit, crop photos, and place everything into the CMS, and a good 24 hours was consumed on this fool’s errand.
All because I feel a strange attachment to the flick from being there during its filming throughout the 2000 CART season, and bore witness to the highly dramatic hopes for a film that was soon referred to as ‘Drivel’ after its release on April 27, 2001.
Now, on the 19th anniversary of Driven, something equally horrific has been produced with whatever you might call the content below. And why are we celebrating Driven’s 19th anniversary? Because it sure as hell doesn’t deserve a 20th.
So off we go with my Driven Viewer’s Guide, with time stamps provided to help you spot the 100-plus oddities and oversights in the movie that gets funnier every time it’s watched. (And if you make it to the end, be sure to right-click and download your rewards.)
1m08s: Driven’s first big lie. 900 million spectators! (What are the odds the first version of the script had ‘9 billion’ listed, followed by a bunch of grunts and confused looks when someone pointed it out, then an epic argument ensued on which number was more accurate?)
1m15s: CART no longer had the BorgWarner trophy; it moved to the rival Indy Racing League in 1996, so Driven made up one of their own and put it in someone’s eye. Symbolism!
1m20s: Possibly the worst opening song in any movie? (Question: Would Driven work better as a silent film? I fear the answer is yes.)
1m45s: Footage just showed German Juan Pablo Montoya, aka Beau Brandenburg, racing on the streets of Long Beach, which is reinforced with large ‘LONG BEACH’ graphics scrolling across the screen.
Beau wins, and is then shown standing on the podium with the name of Twin Ring Motegi, an oval circuit in Japan, emblazoned low on the signage behind him. So, not Long Beach.
And if that wasn’t good enough, a newspaper clipping with the headline of ‘Brandenburg Wins in Portland’ follows as the announcer says he’s won the first race of the season. In a single opening clip, lasting approximately 15 seconds, the brilliance that lies ahead has been confirmed. Brandenburg managed to win Round 1 of the 2000 CART IndyCar Series Championship held at Long-Ring-Portegi-Twin-Beach-Land. Go, Beau!
2m04s: Not to be outdone by Round 1, Brandenburg’s inter-dimensional victories continue at Round 3 in Mexico where his hand is raised high on the podium by young challenger Jimmy Bly (“Where did he come from?” one commentator asks) … at Detroit.
We know it’s Detroit because if you look over Brandenburg’s shoulder, it says the word ‘DETROIT.’ (At first, I wanted to assume the film’s editors were able to see the footage as it was being cut together. I now have doubts after Beau’s win in Detroixico.)
2m12s: Sweet Baby Jesus. Different terrible song. Like Limp Bizkit, but if it was led by Mose, Fred Durst’s beet-farming stepbrother.
2m15s: Big News! Bly wins! At Round 6 on the oval in Brazil! Which is presented as fact with footage of his car crossing the finish line under the checkered flags at Long Beach! And less than one second after the Brazilian flag fades from the screen, we cut to his manager (I just foreshadowed here) pumping his first while sitting in front of a sign that has the Canadian maple leaf and the ‘ADA’ in ‘CANADA’ behind him.
The next part isn’t as big of a surprise as it might have been a few hundred words ago. An ebullient Jimmy, lifted on the Brazil podium by real IndyCar driver Max Papis, does so in front of the signage that says ‘Molson Indy Toronto.’ We’ll just call it Brazonto.
(Is hate-editing a thing? Must be. There’s no way all of these continuity items get missed by dozens of people in post-production, right?)
2m28s: Come on, man. Come on.
Less than three minutes in, and we’ve already given up. Half of the word ‘AUSTRALIA’ is still on the screen as the headline ‘Narrow Victory in France’ starts to fade in.
For good measure, Bly, the streaking rookie who has apparently derailed German JPM’s season by keeping him out of Victory Lane for three races in a row, is shown driving at Detroit. Does that give us Fraudesoit?
3m26: Amid a frenzy of fans, and women—only women—wearing nondescript blue ‘Jimmy Bly’ hats and tank tops at a Mercedes-Benz dealership event where the young star is signing autographs, we are treated to a song featuring a goat as the lead singer.
So enthralled to meet Jimmy, some of the women jump up and down in anticipation of posing for a photo with the American stallion. His manager, a skinny mannequin of a man, says forceful and mean things to him. We now know the mannequin’s in charge. At the close of the scene, Bly is fondled by a woman who grabs his left butt cheek. And now we also know Jimmy Bly is sexy.
5m00s: Welcome to Driven, Estella Warren! Her character, whose name nobody remembers (it’s Sophia Simone), cries while imploring her boyfriend, Juan Pablo Brandenburg, to open up to her as he works on his helmet that features the colors of the Colombian flag. Beau isn’t having it. They break up. He needs to focus on his racing and she’s a distraction. #GirlProblems
6m08s: Dammit. The goat singer is back.
6m37s: Well I’ll be hornswoggled. They finally looked up in the editing bay. The track shown is Chicago Motor Speedway and the graphics ALSO say it’s Chicago! Chicago wins! I’m positive they’ll get these things right going forward.
Also, we get the first look at the fake CART Indy cars used in the filming of Driven. Easy to spot. Big, thick roll hoops. The shock covers never fit.
And the whole front of the tub looks like it was modeled off of a killer whale. Or like Kermit the Frog when he scrunches up his nose. Lumpy and frumpy.
7m08s: Remember how Sylvester Stallone wanted to make a Formula 1 drama, but couldn’t come to terms with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, so he went to CART and made it here? Well, with the introduction of the late Burt Reynolds, we have the first truly bizarre script development.
World championship-winning F1 team owner Sir Frank Williams, a man paralyzed in a 1980s road car accident that confined the Briton to a wheelchair, is blatantly stolen and inserted in Driven.
Say hello to Sir Burt, aka Carl Henry, Bly’s team owner who is … confined to a wheelchair.
7m30s: Oh, snap. Another first (of many) for Driven: Jimmy Bly performs the most beloved performance maneuver used in every car- or racing-related movie: The shift-and-pass!
That’s right, fans. If you want to pass someone, simply downshift and accelerate. Works like a charm.
7m56s: It’s Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull!
8m01s: Spoke too soon. The editors have taken footage of JPM’s real teammate Jimmy Vasser (oddly, the American’s helmet isn’t painted to honor the Colombian flag) and used JV’s car as the fake race announcer calls out German JPM’s name as the driver on his way to victory. He also said (foreshadowing alert) Bly has been dreadfully inconsistent here at Chicago.
8m10s: Bly’s manager, (still unnamed in the movie, despite making his third appearance on screen) cues his radio headset on pit lane and tells his client to pass Brandenburg.
(Despite all of the utter nonsense that’s taken place so far in the film, this is spoken of universally as the first major breach of authenticity in Driven. With Sir Burt Williams on the timing stand, or any other senior team member ready to communicate with the driver during a race, any driver’s manager who might try and chime in with advice would have: The headset and radio forcibly removed from their body, followed by their life force being forcibly removed from the planet. Picture Steph Curry’s manager, sitting next to head coach Steve Kerr, and shouting plays for the NBA star to run. It’s that dumb-wrong.)
8m17s: And the authenticity violations start to pile up quickly here. Sir Frank Reynolds ask-tells Bly to follow Brandenburg’s line around the track. But see, Bly can’t. His car just won’t take it. So, naturally, he asks permission to try another line. (Because that’s what drivers secretly do. They ask their team owners to pre-approve turns of the steering wheel.) Bly’s request, sadly, is denied. He must take German JPM’s line.
8m39s: With memories of his unnamed manager telling him he must win the race, Bly does what any driver would do: Shift-pass.
8m55s: With the race on the line, Bly is attempting—and failing—to beatbox inside the car. (Maybe he’s a Biz Markie fan? Or maybe he’s hyperventilating. Not entirely sure here.)
9m03s: The greatest piece of racing software is revealed in Bly’s pits. In deference to Bly’s sponsor Motorola (have we spoken about how weird it is to have real sponsors depicted in the film?), a telemetry screen is shown that, apparently, through artificial intelligence (IBM’s Watson, is that you?), says trouble is about to strike. The computer program can tell the future!
We know this because the laptop screen, being watched by American Frank Williams, has started to turn red and flash ‘WARNING’ in a bold 1980s computer font. (Also, for you data acquisition geeks out there, note how five engine parameters are shown with red indicator bars, but no actual numbers are associated. What’s the oil temp? Yes.)
9m24s: Jimmy’s in trouble. And we know now, for sure, the telemetry software uses some form of time travel. It predicted a problem, began flashing the WARNING sign, and did so before Bly shift-passed, turned right, touched wheels with German JPM, and spun away his chance to win. (The software predicted everything that happened while Bly was driving in a straight line. Like five seconds before anything happened. Freaking amazing.)
9m33s: Whew! What a relief. Bly completed a 9432-degree spin, which featured some 2.5D animation, but came to rest without hitting anything. The spin lasted approximately four days.
9m39s: Say hello to another new character, ‘Crusher,’ Bly’s team manager. He’s said to be named after real Pacwest PR man Brett ‘Crusher’ Murray, according to Murray. Crusher even wrote that in his autobiography. Using American Frank Williams as a guide, it’s safe to say Stallone’s character creation and development process in Driven involved a fair amount of meeting a person in the paddock, writing down their name, and tossing it onto the screen. (Be thankful CART doctors Mike Hunt and Heywood Jablowme were unemployed at the time of filming.)
10m00s: Get this: Brandenburg wins at Chicago and he’s shown on the Chicago podium! The ship’s pointed in the right direction again!
10m06s: Spoken like Moses from the mountaintop, Sir Frank Reynolds says the fateful words that will transform the film in an instant: “Crusher, it’s time to call Joe Tanto.”
(BTW, they’ve shown a woman sitting on the timing stand next to Burt’s character three or four times now, wearing a headset, and as we’ve come to expect, there’s no mention of who she is. Because, you know, why wait to introduce a character until they serve a purpose?)
10m13s: It’s LAT Photographic’s Maria Grady!
10m39s: Cue the country music, overhead aerial shot of a house next to a lake with downed trees on the shore, and cut to a ringing phone in the barn, the same barn, I believe, from the movie Days of Thunder where Harry Hogge and Cole Trickle kept each other warm. (But they’ve replaced Trickle’s No. 46 Chevy with a Watson or Kurtis Indy roadster. But it’s definitely the same barn.)
11m22s: Tanto has just been told by Sir Burt Williams he’s replacing Memo Moreno in the team. We have no idea who Moreno is, of course, because Bly’s team was never revealed to be more than a one-car operation so far. So we’ll stand on faith and believe the team, which also hasn’t been named, had a second car, but we don’t know if Moreno was doing well or was struggling. Thoughts and prayers, Memo. Thoughts and prayers.
(Quick question: Did the writers look at the CART entry list, see drivers Memo Gidley and Roberto Moreno, and decide to make up their love child, ‘Memo Moreno?’ Always wondered. And here’s another curious item that might be the perfect Driven-esque conundrum: Sir Frank Reynolds doesn’t actually say Memo’s last name when he introduces this character to the film. He simply says ‘Memo’ while speaking to Tanto. We learn Memo’s last name of ‘Moreno’ a little later, when it’s spoken by one of the movie’s disembodied trackside announcers. We’ll also see his name ‘M. Moreno’ on the side of his Indy car waaaay later in the film. But here’s the thing: His last name, in the script, and listed almost everywhere outside the movie, is ‘Heguy.’ Memo Heguy. Not Memo Moreno. ‘Memo Heguy.’ IT’S EVEN LISTED IN THE MOVIE CREDITS AS HEGUY. So whom forgets to tell the others, here? “Hey, script change. ‘Heguy’ is out, ‘Moreno’ is in.” Is this script update, now 19 years later, still stuck in an AOL Online or Compuserve SPAM folder?)
Also, Joe never said yes to taking the job, nor did he negotiate a fee. Oh, and here’s another tiny question to ask: Who is Joe Tanto? Outside of a throwaway line at the beginning of the movie to say he’d been replaced by Bly, there was nothing else offered. Foreshadowing alert: Burt asked Joe if he’d gotten over his fear.
(See how we just solved a few problems there? Without actually saying it, Joe was fired, it seems, for being afraid? Or performing poorly as a result of being afraid? Not sure, but there’s something of value here. It just might get brought up later in the movie. But Driven definitely isn’t bad. It just likes to dangle names and characters in front of us without covering the basics so we never have a clue about what’s going on. But that’s a good thing. Right?)
11m40s: Oh, damn. Bly’s unnamed manager is barking at him again. Even slams the kid’s laptop shut to get his attention after throwing away the Chicago win. Friends, the drama is back, and it’s real. Poor guy. He can’t handle the pressure. He’s being pulled in 10 directions (his words).
(We know this because he did one meet-and-greet before the race and got his ass grabbed. Which, naturally, manifested in hyper-beat-boxing during the race and triggering the ‘WARNING’ software before anything went wrong. Because if there’s one place where you’re by yourself, and not being pulled in 10 directions, it’s in the race car. So where else would the pressure get to Bly, but when he’s not being pulled in 10 directions. To be fair, his manager did jump on the radio and tell him to pass Brandenburg, so that was like two directions. Disregard this note altogether.)
12m14s: PLOT TWIST! You know the douchey manager guy who’s always yelling at Bly and trying to control him? It’s his BROTHER! (And, remarkably, we still don’t know his name!)
13m02s: After kind of reconciling, the brother leaves and Bly returns to his laptop where he watches a simulation of his run at Chicago to figure out what went wrong. (Even in a simulated world, Driven’s editors leave us with unintended comedy as the computer screen shows Japan’s ‘TWIN RING MOT’ on the top left of the animation.)
13m05s: Remember the comedy of the ‘WARNING’ software? Well, it gets better, as the simulation pops up a message of ‘ERROR’ and dips into artificial intelligence once more by reporting Bly over accelerated, and to avoid the same mistake, he’s needs to ‘ENGAGE 5% LESS ACCEL FOR .29 secs.’ (Aside from being asinine, why was the entire message in ALL CAPS except for ‘secs’?)
13m19s: The Toronto announcer mentions Joe ‘The Hummer’ Tanto is replacing Memo Moreno. (Worst double-entendre nickname of all time?)
13m36s: Newman-Haas Racing mechanic Tim Coffeen! (And Rambo, sorry, Sly, incredibly sorry, JOE shooting the finger gun at Timmy!)
13m40s: CART officials! Led by Billy Kamphausen!
13m43s: CART communications director Mike Zizzo! Gratuitously walking in between Mario Andretti and Joe! (And deplorable Ganassi mechanic Matt Swan, looking back at the camera and sneering in the most Matt Swan way possible.)
13m47s: The moment where Joe Stallone thinks he’s meeting fellow Italian Dario Franchitti and can’t quite place the accent.
14m00s: Joe walks under the tent at Brandenburg’s team wearing a hat promoting Winfield cigarettes, the sponsor of Frank Williams’ actual Formula 1 team (and sponsor Sonax, to a lesser degree). Both left at the end of 1999; Driven was filmed in 2000.
(Paid product placement? Possible. Pulled out a hat he was given while scouting a film about F1? Also possible. Yet another weird Williams-obsessed angle from Stallone in his IndyCar movie. Definitely.)
14m39s: While speaking to Estella Warren’s character, Joe asks if she’s still working with Brandenburg’s team. (AHA! She’s more than a girlfriend! But what does she do? Yet another orphaned backstory item.)
14m43s: This is how German JPM, aka actor Til Schweiger, looks in every scene. EVERY SCENE. (Take singer Billy Idol, remove the singing, crank up the side-eye acting, then dial down the perma-sneer by 46 percent, and you have Beau Brandenburg.)
16m01: Timing-stand woman has a name! Lucretia Jones!
(Did 2000s-era web sites like GeoCities, or maybe the Excite! home page, have ‘Really Strange and Random-ass Name Generator’ tools I missed noticing? I mean, Joe Tanto? Jimmy Bly? Lucretia Jones? Memo Heguy? WTF?)
Turns out she’s a journalist doing a season-long expose on male dominance in sports. Which is why, obviously, she’s placed in the middle of the team’s command center during each race, just like we see NFL reporters tied to Bill Belichick’s hip at football games for their stories. Totally happens. All the time.
(Gotta bring up the name consistency thing again. Sir Frank Williams clearly announces her as ‘Lucretia Jones.’ The script has her as ‘Lucretia Clan.’ But we never hear her last name again to double confirm. But ‘Jones’ and ‘Clan’ sound nothing alike, right? And back to that random-ass name generator. ‘Lucretia Clan?’ It makes ‘Lucretia Jones’ seem semi-normal.)
16m42s: Joe’s divorced! His ex is played by Gina Gershon. (Want to guess her name? Like so many other aspects of the movie, we have no idea!)
17m10s: The secret of Memo’s firing is revealed! He failed to support Jimmy Bly, according to Sir Burt Williams, during the races we didn’t know he existed. Seriously uncool, Memo.
17m55s: After flying to Toronto to drive without a contract, Joe is finally told why he’s been brought back from IndyCar purgatory: To do what Memo could not, by supporting and mentoring Bly.
(No racing for wins, Tanto; you’re Bly’s race car valet. Or something.)
18m02s: SUBMITTED FOR CONSIDERATION TO THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES: Driven’s quarter scene. It’s a rarity when peak awesomeness is achieved so early in a movie, but here we are.
(First question: Private testing on a street course? Joe’s unnamed team has, for the first time in history, booked some alone time on the streets of Toronto for Tanto to get reacquainted with an Indy car. You know when sports movie try to accurately recreate the sport they’re presenting, but miss the target a few times. This isn’t that kind of movie. Trying is not involved. Add the setting of the quarter scene to the many ‘IT NEVER HAPPENS LIKE THAT’ authenticity fails in the movie.)
18m13s: The still-unnamed brother/manager asks Crusher “What’d you give him?” as Tanto streaks away. This, too, is a question that’s never been asked of a team manager. Or anyone on a racing team. Crusher responds, “Gas money.”
(Cue ‘For The Love Money,’ but not the amazing original version of the song by the O’Jays, or even the hair metal version by the Bullet Boys. It’s some Puff Daddy-inspired rip off.)
18m36s: Tanto stops on the circuit he has all to himself (while, presumably, all the other teams and drivers are pummeling every CART official in sight while demanding to be given equal track time), and flips the first of a few American quarters onto the track.
(Sidebar: If the movie Driven had never been made, and I decided to branch out into writing fiction and penned a chapter where an old, frightened IndyCar driver got called back to teach a nervous rookie, who was cracking under the pressure of doing his job, and included a scene where the old driver demonstrates his skills by throwing loose change onto the track and trying to pick it up with his tires, I’d never work again, right? Also, another quick question: Seeing how the event is in Toronto, shouldn’t Joe be flipping Canadian coins onto the track? Did he skip going to the currency exchange place in the airport? These are things I need to know.)
18m45s: Let’s talk about cameras and angles. The entire quarter scene features amazing live production from, it appears, people standing on the race track to film his every move. (‘Nothing dangerous to see here, folks. We’ll mop up what’s left of the camera operator at the end of the scene.’)
19m06: After explaining to Bly that Tanto will pick up the three quarters with his rear tire, in a controlled drift, and not lose a millisecond of speed, Crusher continues the awkward conversation by refusing to look at Bly, keeping his eyes fixed with ninja-like discipline on the monitors sat in front of him on the timing stand. (This is also the part where every IndyCar driver bursts out laughing at the notion of losing no speed while drifting.)
19m23s: Hey! The downtown city street circuit has been replaced by a grassy natural-terrain road course while Joe’s mid-drift to pick up the first quarter.
19m27s: Hey, hey! Still on the natural road course, and we can see film crew on the right side of the track! Hi, guys!
19m 38: Triple hey! Crusher said Joe just picked up the second quarter, but the editors used the same piece of track footage as the first quarter retrieval, albeit from a different angle. (#Confusing.)
19m43s: Jimmy’s also confused. It’s like he hears something weird from Joe’s car through the headset.
20m00: Oh, there’s a lot to unpack here. Joe’s humming. He’s driving and humming. Yet another mystery revealed.
Thanks to Jimmy asking Crusher about the sound coming over the in-car radio, we know why he’s called Joe “The Hummer” Tanto. (Another reality check: In Driven, radios are somehow like mobile phones where the line is open the entire time in both directions. In reality, for a driver to say something to the pits, or for the pits to communicate with Joe, they’d need to press a button to activate the radio and claim control of the one-way transmission. If Joe’s being heard by everyone as he drives and hums, it means he’s holding his finger on the steering wheel’s radio button to transmit the entire time. That’s really strange. And egotistical.)
Crusher says the humming is a habit that emerges when Joe’s nearing the limit. Even better, Lucretia (she prefers to be called ‘Luke,’ BTW) asks if anyone else hums while racing. Crusher, who continues to refuse to look left or right–holding his steely lock on the forward monitors–says no, not among the living.
(This, too, requires another unpacking. Has Crusher known other drivers who hum, and they’ve all died? Is humming and driving a heretofore unknown deadly combination in racing? Like feeding Gremlins, after midnight? Shouldn’t Crusher, out of care for his driver, be warning Joe to stop humming? Oh, that’s right. He can’t. Joe’s holding the mic open while driving to hum for the team, so Crusher can’t transmit and save a life. Damn you, Joe Tanto.)
20m14s: The Grim Reaper has come for Tanto. The toll is due for all of that reckless humming. The team’s A.I. software has predicted Death’s arrival and presented: ‘ERROR. OVER REV. ADD 11% BRAKING’ to the screen.
(Of the sundries to note, the correct track is listed, but it says two racers are on the circuit when there’s only one and, to the eternal frustration of his rivals, Joe has apparently turned 95 laps of private testing at Toronto.)
20m31s: In the presence of an Indy car in motion, the earth shakes. Good to know!
20m55s: The conclusion to the quarter scene plays out. Crusher says Joe has passed the audition. (Picking up quarters was an audition! Why isn’t this still a thing? “Yes, Mr. Andretti, we do believe your son Michael could be a star if we put him in our car, but can he retrieve quarters with a rear tire? And how about you?”)
22m40s: Bly is in the hotel looking at his data again.
24m17s: CATHY! Joe’s ex-wife! Her name is Cathy!
(We learn this as Joe is interviewed by Lucretia–forget ‘Luke’…Driven needs to own ‘Lucretia’–during a game of billiards. Insider Tip: Journalists conduct some of their best interviews at a bar while playing pool due to the peace and quiet.)
Also, hello to the sexual-tension phase in Driven.
25m30: Jimmy and Estella Warren have a deep conversation at a different bar. Bly. in another ode to Biz Markie, says Estella’s just a friend. Estella says she’s not over Beau. Although they have zero chemistry, you’d better believe romance is on the horizon.
27m00s: Somehow, we’re STILL AT TORONTO.
27m10s: It’s the subtleties of Driven that are hard to miss. Cut to crowd shots of fans by opening on a woman’s chest, then filler footage, then a woman eating a hot dog. The palate cleanser immediately follows with a man chomping down a burrito. Just know scantily-clad women follow, in droves.
27m24s: Pit lane at Australia! While we’re at Toronto!
27m50s: Indy Lights driver Johnny Kane!
28m11s: It’s sunny and hot outside, but inside the Expo Centre, where the IndyCar teams are housed, the floor is wet. Eeew.
(We know this because Mrs. Ex-Tanto is strolling down the hall looking for Joe to say ugly things to him. She, you see, married a rival driver. But who? Memo Moreno! The guy he just replaced! See, she replaced Joe with Memo, but Sir Burt Williams replaced Memo with Joe. Awkward!)
29m27s: Triple awkward! We finally meet Memo, who kisses his new wife and then walks over to greet Joe as she walks away.
(Another fun note: Tanto, dressed in his nameless team’s racing suit, which is adorned with sponsors like NEXTEL, and engine partner Mercedes-Benz, greets former team employee Moreno who, we assume, is in Toronto driving for a different team. But he’s still wearing his old racing suit, with visible NEXTEL embroidery on it. You know that meme of Spider Man pointing at an identical Spider Man pointing back at him? This just happened in the movie with the two drivers wearing the same racing suit. Although I’m confident it never occurred to the folks making Driven, Memo’s choice of attire is like getting fired from your job at McDonald’s, getting hired at Burger King, and showing up for the first day of work dressed in your McDonald’s gear. Make that quadruple awkward!)
30m25s: Most Stallone movies have a ‘bro moment.’ Here’s ours, as he flexes biceps with Moreno and does some form of synchronized bro-finger-pointing thing.
30m47s: Tanto slaps Lucrecia’s behind with the sleeve of his racing suit while walking to his Indy car. Sexual tension redux! #MeToo!
33m16s: Long-held suspicion confirmed. German JPM is on pole at Toronto; Franchitti is starting second. Always knew Brandenburg was faster than the Scot. (For giggles, they show Dario on track at Toronto, then cut to him on an oval. #Consistency)
33m55s: The sounds. Some are authentic CART cars from 2000. Some are F1 from the same era. It’s to be expected.
34m00s: Oh no! The start of a big crash sequence! From the overhead camera, we see a Patrick Racing Indy car has spun and is about the hit the tire barrier. Behind the tires is a concrete wall with catch fencing atop it to protect the fans in the grandstands. Tires, concrete, 20 feet of grass, then grandstands. Remember that part.
34m03s: What happened to the concrete, 20 feet of grass, and the grandstands? I’m confused again. The car has plowed through the tires, which explode into the sky along with a lot of white powder (please speculate on its origins) as the car bursts towards the camera like a missile.
It plants, nose first, and somersaults forward as its driver, Plastic Roberto Moreno, doesn’t move an inch in the cockpit. (This ‘Memo’ and ‘Moreno’ thing is getting out of hand).
The CART safety team is instantly dispatched—while the car is still tumbling—onto the Detroit street circuit, based on the footage used in the clip.
I bet those guys got yelled at for going to the wrong race. (The crash also appears to have been staged at Detroit. And yes, we’re STILL in Toronto.)
35m22s: The driving instructions are back. Sir Burt Williams has told Bly, in second, to go after Brandenburg, in first.
(Yet another secret uncorked: Drivers don’t know when to pass. Thankfully, they have team owners who think of that stuff on their behalf. If you listen carefully during most baseball games, the coaches tell the batters when to swing. Sorry to ruin it for you.)
35m40s: Jimmy’s nameless brother-manager provides more radio advice. Sir Burt, FINALLY, tells him to lay off the commentary.
35m48s: Shift-pass by Bly! He’s leading!
37m21s: That devious, sneaky team owner! Without telling us where he was in the race, or if he was anywhere near a quality finish, Sir Burt has ordered Tanto to the pits where he sits—to Joe’s frustration—while they wait for Bly and Brandenburg to lap him. Their team owner finally releases Joe, who emerges from the pits directly between Jimmy and Beau. He’s serving his highly unethical purpose! He’s blocking Beau so Jimmy can win!
38m14s: BLY WINS! BLY WINS!
(And, remarkably, no fines or disqualifications afterwards! And Joe’s mad for being used as a pawn! Even though that’s exactly what he was told to expect.)
38m54s: It’s time for the post-race press conference. It’s held in something approximating a teaching auditorium, with high-rising rows of seats looking down on the top three finishers.
(Strangely, the mechanics from the top three cars are also seated among the press. Just like when you watch a presser after an NBA game and all of the assistant coaches and athletic trainers are shown in the audience. Also, remember the sycophantic, ass-grabbing, blue-hat-wearing Jimmy Bly girls from the Mercedes dealership event? They’re back! And cheering during the press conference! Happens every time in real life!)
41m07s: Estella Warren can swim. We know this because it’s one of the few facts we get to know. Character development!
(Safe to assume someone on the production has a foot fetish, based on the water ballet scene inserted into the film, as the CART series settles into its next race in Japan.)
42m14s: The makers of Driven would like you to focus on Warren’s gratuitous cleavage. I’d like to call attention to the giant Japanese flag in the background to reinforce the change of venue after spending almost 25 minutes of the film’s first 40 minutes in Toronto.
(Also, Bly is sitting poolside with his laptop. It feels like the fifth scene so far with the damn thing. Brandenburg even had one in hand when Tanto showed up in the Winfield Williams hat. It’s like someone made an offhand remark to the writers about teams and drivers ‘always looking at data’ and they didn’t realize it wasn’t a comment to take literally.)
43m10s: Time for a heart to heart between Tanto and German JPM. At the Twin Ring Motegi oval. In Japan. Where the grandstands have their section numbers written in English.
43m23s: Hat change! Forget Winfield, or NEXTEL, it’s another F1 team sponsor, Zepter Timepieces, as found on the Arrows cars, among others! (One thing is for sure: The Hummer got paid!)
45m39s: Twin Ring Motegi…Japan Motor Speedway…use whatever’s easiest, I guess, scriptwriter person.
46m22s: The Beatles and Michael Jackson are a distant number two and three to the popularity earned by rookie points leader Jimmy Bly, who we’re told holds 10th in the championship standings. Tenth.
(The size and rabid ferocity of the mob attempting to get a piece of Bly, which lacks Japanese people, FWIW, is unlike anything ever seen in the entertainment industry. For the guy in TENTH PLACE.)
46m31s: (I forgot to tell you. Back at the 5m00s mark, at a track they never really defined, but let’s go with it being Chicago, when Beau and Estella broke up, she took off her engagement ring and placed in front of Brandenburg’s Colombian JPM helmet. Many tracks later, with races won and lost, tons of equipment packed away and unloaded, the Target team’s transporter has apparently been flown to Japan. We know this because a lonely and regretful Brandenburg is inside the trailer, staring at the same ring, sitting in front of his same helmet, which hasn’t moved a millimeter, despite tens of thousands of miles of road and air travel. That’s one heavy rock.)
47m32s: Joe and Lucretia are out talking an evening stroll. If we’re talking natural chemistry, these two go together as well as a porterhouse steak dipped in Shake-and-Bake. The pretend-ease of the relationship makes me wonder if something professional might turn personal.
(Wow! There it is! She grabs his arm and they start walking in tandem! Hooray for love! So, that recent movie ‘Richard Jewell,’ which caught all kinds of deserved hell for trotting out the lame ‘female reporters use sex to get the story’ trope. Yeah, suck it Richard Jewell! Driven says you’re 18 years late to the lazy plot party.)
48m50s: Bly and Estella are at a bar. They song playing repeats the line ‘I’m out of control.’ (It’s like they’re sending a subliminal message or something.)
49m22s: Have we spoken about how slow the fake CART cars are in the fake action scenes? Like, really slow. (Seems like something that running the footage at 1.5X speed would have solved, no? Oh, and on the outside of Bly in this clip, who’s being shadowed by Brandenburg’s car, we see Roberto Moreno! He survived the Toronto Moonsault Vert 960 X-Jam! MORENO!)
49m45s: German JPM and the uber shift-pass!
50m08s: Tanto speaks from his car to Bly’s! Tells him to shake off the pressure from Brandenburg. (Race car radios were so much cooler and more capable in 2000.)
50m21s: So, is Japan like Australia where the water swirls in the opposite direction in the toilet? I ask because Brandenburg, under pressure from Bly, turns the wheel right, to block. But his car darts to the left.
(Does that mean all the controls work backwards when they race in Japan? Like, the throttle is the brake, or like you pull back on the throttle to accelerate instead of pushing down, and pull back on the brake to stop, as well? For the umpteenth time in Driven, I’m so confused.)
50m23s: Whenever Bly turns the steering wheel hard, his tires squeal. Firestone’s Driven compound clearly needed some work.
50m48s: Jimmy’s doing his Biz Markie impression again. How has the A.I. time machine software failed to spot the impending doom?
51m11s: Seriously, Motorola Watson? The guy is seeing double, hyperventilating, and you’ve got nothing? No red ‘WARNING’ screens to offer? Bly slams the wall while trying to pass German JPM for the win. (In doing so, we also catch a glimpse of a Zepter Timepieces advertisement on the wall…pretty slick, Sly.)
52m27s: Like Moreno’s crash, Bly’s car is undoubtably made from Post-it Notes and paper clips. A pride of lions have done less damage to a dead yak in comparison to the destruction visited upon Jimmy’s fake car. He survived, though, uninjured, but his confidence is in tatters.
(We assume Brandenburg went on to win, but we don’t know because they didn’t say. We know to expect stuff like that now, don’t we?)
52m48s: Something called a ‘Prototype Party’ is being held in downtown Chicago. It’s to showcase the new cars that CART will race ‘into the next millennium,’ according to the announcer. (Isn’t the year 2000, depicted in the film, already in the new millennium? Or is that 2001? Kill me now.)
Adding to the long string of assumptions, we might get the impression this was held after the race in Japan. (Which begs the question: Weren’t we just in Chicago a few races ago? Like, wouldn’t the ‘Prototype Party’ in Chicago be something to place on the event calendar for the Chicago race weekend, instead of making everyone go to Japan and back? #Inconsiderate)
So, the big new-car reveal, with the prototype Indy cars for the 2000 season they’re already in, features two models being driven out into a shallow pool of water. If you’re like me, and think the reveals would be of two different chassis models, nope, it’s two Reynards. (Does this mean IndyCar constructors Lola and Swift no longer exist in Stallone’s world of Driven?)
53m50s: DEMILLE! Jimmy’s brother’s name is DEMILLE! (With a name like that, come on, you’ve got to go all-caps.) Amazing what you can learn if you hang on for a full 51 MINUTES after he was first shown. Also, we learn the name on his birth certificate isn’t ‘Douchey Bly Bro!’
54m15s: Spiteful ex-Tanto wife shows up to kill the vibe Joe and Lucretia had going. She’s not very nice.
57m09s: Man, this Prototype Party is NOT good for relationships. Mrs. ex-Tanto followed future Mrs. ex-Tanto into the bathroom and they had unkind words to exchange. Lucretia even flipped her the bird! Unsavory!
And then Jimmy, mobbed once more, this time by a jittery-nervous reporter (was that his white powder that went flying in Moreno’s crash?) hits Bly with some terrible questions, but the star is distracted: Estella’s talking to her ring-gazing ex-fiancé, German JPM. Cut to Jimmy hurriedly walking to intervene, where he mumbles something unintelligible to Estella and Beau tells him to mind his own business. (For real. This Prototype Party is a mess.)
58m14s: The ring! It’s back! Beau tries to give to Estella, but she isn’t having it. Torn between two drivers, she’s in an unenviable position!
58m36s: Bly, unable to use his big words and express himself, gets into a tussle with Brandenburg over Estella. He storms away.
(I feel like this wasn’t an actual script choice. It comes across as the ultimate expression of poor acting and poor writing, where the guy in charge of saying the words isn’t very good at speaking, and the people responsible for writing the words drew a blank, so they just left it up to the actor to do his thing, which involved looking lost, followed by improvising most of the scene by saying fumbling seven words. It’s Acting 101 gold.)
Also, moments earlier, Estella apologized to Bly, saying ‘sooory.’ Not ‘sorry,’ but ‘sooory.’ Almost an hour into Driven, she’s been outed as Canadian.
59m00s: IT’S HERE! THE INDY CAR STREET CHASE SCENE!
(And before we get more than two seconds in, let’s address another split from reality that pissed a lot of people off: Raging Jimmy, unable to cope with his emotions, runs downstairs and climbs into one of the new Reynards. He fires it up and drives away. Since Indy cars use remote starters, what he did was impossible, but hey, movies.)
59m13s: Joe Tanto goes one better by jumping into the other new Reynard, and in an amazing moment, appears to start the car by pulling the gear lever backwards. The engine made no sound before he pulled the lever, and then, boom, pulled it, and the wheels were spinning. (Is this another IndyCar secret? Are the remote starters just for show? This might need some investigating.)
59m39s: Set to the perfect Raging Jimmy soundtrack with the band Filter providing the music, Bly and Tanto hustle through Chi-town at night on the bumpy, uneven roads with cars that sit approximately two inches off the ground. Defying physics, Bly drives over a manhole cover (personhole cover?), which is lifted out of place a few inches by the speed and suction beneath the Reynard, but only after the car passes by. Hmmm. Then Joe drives over it, at the same speed, and it’s pulled up and flipped six feet into the air. Double hmmm.
(Wouldn’t it have been sucked up into the car, causing a significant crash, like when it happened to a Porsche 962 decades ago? I digress.)
59m41s: Remember the part a longtime ago where Joe was doing the quarter trick and I said Indy cars apparently rattle the earth? See, I was right. (This time, the two cars cause the rear window at a bus stop the shatter and shower a man and a woman with glass. Also, the cars have F1 engines, based on the audio. Those poor deaf and bleeding bus people.)
1h00m09s: Joe’s still chasing Jimmy, and he’s been forced to drive beneath tractor-trailers. Oh, and they’ve gotten their IndyCar engines back. Screw you, F1.
1h00m18s: Sparks! In the face!
1h00m34s: (The part where I said the fake Indy cars are never shown going quickly. Ripping along in a tunnel at what might be 80mph, a Chicago patrolman uses his radar gun to show us they’re actually doing ‘195mph.’ With no helmets. But they can see.)
1h00m43s: Boy, I bet Joe wishes he had the magical helmet radio system. He’s yelling at Jimmy to pull over. At 195mph, you’ll recall, with screaming engines in the cacophonous tunnel. Jimmy does not hear him.
1h00m51s: You movie-making scoundrels. Rocketing past theater goers waiting on the sidewalk to see ‘MAMMA MIA,’ the planet-rattling cars cause a woman’s dress to blow skywards, ala Marilyn Monroe. We get to see her underwear. (Is there a female version of tighty-whities, BTW?)
1h00m57s: It needs to be said: Indy cars are a**holes.
(Quarters, manhole covers, windows, dresses, and now an entire newsstand is destroyed from the ungodly forces unleashed by Indy cars on streets. A ban is in order.)
1h01m15s: ANOTHER FREAKING MANHOLE COVER! This time, which is no different from the first time a few moments ago, Bly’s car flips it up and back at Joe, who ducks and barely avoids decapitation.
(Strange thing here: After it misses Joe and hits the ground, Jimmy’s car starts sparking. Like, the moment it hit the ground. While 50 feet ahead of Joe. Weird.)
1h01m20s: Now both cars are spitting like Fourth of July sparklers. Dunno why. And, fun times, remember at Motegi where Bly was turning the wheel sharply to the left and right, and the tires squealed? Firestone still hasn’t gotten it fixed. He’s constantly yanking the wheel while diving between cars.
(In yet another odd nod to physics, each hard turn of the steering wheel should violently send the car about 300 feet left or right. Instead, each crank does nothing to upset the car. Bad job, Reynard.)
1h01m33s: Hello Jimmy Bly’s stunt driver wearing protective glasses!
1h02m18s: Miraculously, the bottoms of their cars haven’t been worn off and left them to race Fred Flintstone-style, but Tanto spins, and then Bly spins to avoid hitting him. The stupidest vehicular chase scene of all time is over. (Now back to our favorite holes—those found in the plot.)
1h02m51s: Raging Jimmy has become Shouty Jimmy. Bly’s his name; bottled up emotions are his game. He’s pissed that Estella seemingly left him, although we never saw the so something as simple as complete a basic kiss. But she also didn’t go back to Beau, or re-accept his wedding ring. So there’s that. But he’s upset, so he climbed into an Indy car, used the top-secret lever-starter trick, shot through downtown Chicago, tore lots of things up, caused ordinary drivers to spin and shat themselves in crash avoidance, and all because he was mad and wants to fight German JPM.
(Which, in his mind, equated to a need to street-race an Indy car by himself. Is being half-polar a thing?)
The most amazing thing we learn in this exchange is: JOE’S GETTING PAID!
1h03m15s: Dang, Joe’s droppin’ knowledge. Turns out Jimmy just pulled the street-racing maneuver to get fired. PRESSURE! HE CAN’T ESCAPE IT!
(And that’s not it! Remember the song way back at 48m50s that had the lyrics ‘I’m out of control’? Daaaaaaaaaaamn. That’s what Joe says to Bly—that he’s out of control! This is incredible! How did he know?)
1h04m43s: Driven cuts to a private plane where Joe is using two spoons to show Jimmy how to drive. SPOONS. I’m surprised he doesn’t have him chasing butterflies with a hammer. And Jimmy has his **********ing laptop again. Tanto feeds chocolate mousse to Lucretia. We assume they’ve done adult things by this point to make them a couple. (Hat tip to Richard Jewell once more.) The next scene informs us they’re flying to ‘RACEWAY GERMANY.’ Cool. Hey, need another sidebar here.
(SHOULDN’T THEY BE IN PRISON? Not Lucretia, but the two jackasses who destroyed plenty of downtown property and wreaked havoc on city streets in race cars that weren’t road legal? That were clocked by the police at doing 195 supposed miles per hour? What The Sir Frank!)
1h05m15s: Whoomp, there it is. CART’s president has given the two $25,000 fines for the GTA Chicago routine. Seems fair.
1h06m03s: It’s official! Lucretia the reporter writing the story on male dominance in sports is dating one of the subjects she’s reporting on! Magazine editors love it when that happens. Never discouraged.
(We’ve come a long way in this movie by now, and other than a few token journalist-type things in the very beginning, Lucretia doesn’t seem to do any writing. Add another orphan to the growing plotline body count.)
1h06m13s: Time to hit the track in Germany, which looks a lot like an automotive proving ground as the cars go clockwise—the wrong way–around the high-bank oval. Weird again.
1h06m16s: ARE YOU SH***ING ME, DRIVEN? The laptop is back, and in a new twist, Joe Tanto is at the controls, showing Crusher and Bly the computerized deal.
(Also, Tanto Stallone has a new and different Zepter Timepieces hat, and is flashing a big watch on his wrist while pointing at the laptop screen. One might go so far as to suggest it was a paid product placement.)
1h06m23s: They’re relentless with the weather forecasts; it’s going to rain. Also, Jimmy is shown lapping on the Detroit street circuit. In Germany. (My confusion never ends.)
1h06m33s: Lord Jesus help me. Bly. Laptop. More simulation.
(I should tell you that Driven’s editors have officially quit by this point. Jimmy points to the screen where it says ‘DETROIT TRACK’ above a map of the Detroit circuit. While preparing for the race in Germany.)
1h06m37s: Did I mention we’ve gone full ‘Team America: World Police’ montage? (Cue more testing footage, now on an oval, and now going the normal counterclockwise direction. Oh, and now Tanto is coaching Jimmy on how to use a treadmill.)
1h06m57s: ANOTHER EFFING LAPTOP. (I might have developed a nervous tic here.)
1h07m20s: PLOT TWIST! Joe’s out! Not out of the team, but out of the seat. Sir Burt Williams is bringing back Memo Moreno for the final two races!
(So, wait. Does that mean Memo wasn’t driving for another team, but showed up at the next race after he was fired with nothing to drive, but still wearing his racing suit? So it’s not like the former McDonald’s employee showing up to start at Burger King in his Mickey D’s costume. It’s worse! It means the fired McDonald’s guy showed up at his old McDonald’s wearing McDonald’s clothes but without having a job. Memo. Buddy. You need some help.)
Also, Sir Burt tells Tanto that if his off-track coaching doesn’t result in on-track success, he and Jimmy are gone at the end of the season. (Pressure! Can they stand it? Let’s find out!)
1h07m35s: Come on, man. We’re back to driver coaching with spoons again.
(The writers must have stolen this from legendary NFL coach Hank Stram, who taught his players how to matriculate the ball down the field using sporks and breakfast sausages. Totally happened. Just don’t Google it.)
1h07m54s: Shirtless and glistening Memo Moreno, aka, Chest Rockwell.
1h08m46s: (Somewhere, Mickey O’Rourke is wondering where his floppy denim hat and denim jumpsuit ended up. Now we know.)
1h09m15s: A young German woman rushes into German JPM’s garage just before the race and asks to kiss him; she’s made a bet that she can kiss every driver. Beau is unimpressed.
(SPOILER ALERT: Women in Driven are little more than props. I know, right? Shocker.)
1h09m33s: Hawaiian Tropic Girls!
1h09m47s: Aaaaand scene. Jimmy Bly, aka actor Kip Pardue, walks up to his title protagonist Brandenburg to have words before the German race.
(There’s a split second during the uncomfortable stroll, right before the speaking part is supposed to start, where Kip Bly appears to look down and find his mark on the ground to stand and deliver his lines. Acting!)
1h09m56s: Bly looks up and says something approximating ‘Fondue paw-chize.’
(After consulting Siri on my iPhone, the best we’ve come up with is he attempted to say ‘I want to apologize.’ My phone and I came to this conclusion, not so much from audio analysis, but because German JPM repeats some of Bly’s words back to him in a response. I’m also not entirely sure I’ve adequately highlighted Bly’s constant mumble-speak throughout the film. In my mind, I picture Driven’s sound recording artists doing a lot of shrugging and hoping nobody would notice. Either that, or like the editors, the sound crew left halfway through production and replaced themselves with cardboard cutouts of Joe Tanto holding cassette recorders. Sadly, nobody noticed.)
1h11m56s: A lot. That’s a lot. The band Filter is back with ‘Nice Shot Man’ or whatever it’s called. So, as mentioned, it’s raining. Tropical thunderstorms are less powerful than the deluge here. And the cars take the green flag on the oval, which is also Detroit, and maybe Portland or Cleveland.
(For the umpteenth umpteenth time, I’m really confused. But I hear the voice of announcer Larry Henry! Hey, Larry! And there’s more Zepter Timepieces banners. The Hummer got paid!)
1h12m10s: Now I’ve got it. It wasn’t Portland or Cleveland. It’s a made-up track they put together somewhere, possibly the auto proving grounds. (We know it’s a fake track because it’s a single lane. Like, a one-lane highway. Yikes.)
1h13m02s: I didn’t mention it the first time, but the CGI rain drops have returned. Maybe the director felt the struggle to see out of the visor wasn’t enough, so some VERY basic animation was applied.
1h13m29s: Time for the space launch of Max Papis. Poor Memo Gidley spun in the rain, came to a stop in the middle of the track while facing oncoming cars, and like a good NASA departure from Cape Canaveral, our man Maxy P is lighting the aerial afterburners.
1h13m33s: What’s that, a good 40 feet in the air?
1h13m35s: Aw, man, you can see the steel tubeframe chassis exposed on the fake Falcon Heavy 9 Indy car.
1h13m38s: (I know iRacing started in 2008, but for real, this is just a 2000 clip from iRacing, right?)
1h13m55s: A man was successfully sent into space, crashed back to earth, and nobody slows down? (These Driven drivers are cold.)
1h14m06s: Wait. Memo Gidley, who just used his Della Penna Racing Indy car as a Hot Wheels ramp for Max Papis, isn’t mentioned as being dead or alive? Nor is Papis. And for good measure, in a matter of seconds, Gidley’s team owner John Della Penna has apparently left, moved over to Beau Brandenburg’s team, and is excitedly calling the shots next to Estella Warren. (I’m running out of ways to say I’m confused.)
1h14m16s. I’m seriously about to quit. The announcer says Bly’s new-old teammate Memo Moreno has just passed Michael Andretti. (But it isn’t Michael Andretti. It’s half of his namesake, Roberto Moreno. And BY GOD. HOW IS MEMO GIDLEY DOING? I’m starting to crack. And I now I want to play with spoons. What has Driven done to me?)
1h14m26s: I see how it is. That poor woman. Threw away her career as a journalist by dating The Hummer. Lucretia’s now gone from the timing stand next to Sir Burt Williams. But not the THREE LAPTOPS (OK, those are actually supposed to be there. For real. My head’s screwed.)
1h15m10s: Ok, Memo Moreno, what happened? He was supposed to serve as Jimmy’s blocker. Which isn’t a thing in racing, but OK. He’s passing everybody and is challenging Bly for the lead. Sir Burt yells at him to lift. Mrs. Moreno yells at him to go. Sir Burt yells at her to shut up. THERE’S A LOT OF YELLING HERE AND IT’S CAUSING MORE CONFUSION. I WONDER IF IT’S FOR A REASON.
1h15m23s: Over their car-to-car intercom, which still isn’t a thing in IndyCar, Bly warns Memo he’s too close. It’s for a reason.
1h15m50s: (And it’s a long fly ball, way back, way back, it’s nearing the warning track, AND IT’S GONE, HOME RUN! Memo Moreno, we hardly knew you. After touching wheels with Bly, the greatest animated fake crash in the history of forever is delivered like a cinematic enema. Once he’s done doing an axle grind and table top, Moreno’s battered car descends from the heavens like an arrow aimed at the middle of the track. A driver, whose car is like a mighty Louisville Slugger, hits the nose of Moreno’s car and knocks him out of the ballpark. Screw you, physics.)
1h16m03s: Thrown through a wall of flame, piercing a gaggle of trees, Memo Thee Meteor (no relation to Megan Thee Stallion) plummets towards a lake. All totaled, he’s covered 16 air miles since making first contact with Bly.
1h16m10s: On the road to victory, Bly’s newfound clarity in life has triggered the humanity chip inside his Cyberdyne Systems T800 frame. He’s spun the car around, right in front of another Zepter Timepieces billboard, and is going back to help his new-old teammate blocker guy who married his old-old teammate’s ex-wife. (Have I got that right? Maybe, like Jimmy, I’ve also gotten my mojo back. Let’s keep going.)
1h17m18s: Super Bly has run down the embankment, swam to the burning car, and half lifts the 1000-pound vehicle out of the water so Moreno, who’s upside down and submerged, can take a breath. (He’s soon joined by Brandenburg, who also turned around, and working together, as we learn in every kid’s movie, is when good things happen. #TeamworkMakestheDreamWork)
1h18m44s: THEY DID IT! Memo’s freed from the car, but as the announcer says, there’s fuel in the water and flames everywhere. (WHICH MAKES HAVING A HELICOPTER DIRECTLY OVERHEAD TO FAN THE FLAMES A REALLY AWESOME IDEA.)
1h19m25s: That mother******* HELICOPTER PILOT! Knocked down the flaming tree, which ignited the fuel and car.
(Who, at ESPN, signed off on having their name on the screen for this? And should we explain how in real Indy car racing, fire crews use water to extinguish burning ethanol or methanol fuel? Let’s not.)
1h20m01s: THEY SURVIVED! But Memo can’t feel his legs, and Jimmy hurt his foot. But German JPM is just fine. Yeesh. (I wonder if this is going to somehow factor into the championship finale. #Foreshadowing)
1h24m00s: Standing next to Moreno’s burned car, Tanto and Sir Burt get very emotional. Joe runs his hand across the toasted ‘M. MORENO’ sticker on the side of the cockpit (Sorry, can’t let this one go. It really should read ‘M. HEGUY.’ So lame, Driven.)
Moreno can’t drive, Bly is weak for going back to help him, and his team owner is cutting him loose. But that’s not all. Jimmy’s manager-brother DEMILLE is brokering the deal to get Brandenburg to replace him. The ultimate betrayal.
(And while we’re at it, DEMILLE? Their parents went 1800s-French-author with their first son’s name, and rather than up the ante with the second boy, maybe a GASTON-CECILLE, they go with ‘Jimmy,’ like the nice boy who delivers the pizzas? Driven, you got some ‘splainin to do.)
Sir Burt (returning to action possibly too soon after a facelift pulled his ears back like a slingshot), aggro-screams at The Hummer for throwing it all away. ‘It,’ as you’ve come to know by now, isn’t defined. Gets no elaboration. (Also, with most of the characters written as monosyllabic simps, who ratcheted up the quasi-Shakespearean dialogue for Sir Smokey The Bandit? Granted, it’s all summer stock and prosaic filler that makes noise but says next to nothing. If I’m Sir Frank Williams, I’m lobbing flaming turds at Driven’s writers.)
1h25m46s: Tanto walks away, dejected, into the pouring rain. One big thing comes to mind: Why the hell is there another 30 minutes left in the movie? Honestly. What’s left to poorly emote or blow up?
1h26m04s: How long has it been? Twenty minutes? Get ready: Bly. Laptop. Simulation.
(Same Detroit track! Still in Germany! It’s like they’re messing with me, right?)
1h26m32s: Sophia calls Jimmy, who has a SWEET Motorola flip phone. Don’t remember Sophia? That’s Estella Warren! But since she didn’t say her name until nearly 90 minutes into the flick, why would you know that? (Plus, anyone seen Lucretia? She’s been missing in action for a while now. LUCRETIA!)
1h27m33s: DEMILLE is pissed, and lets Jimmy know about it! He wasn’t being heard, or something. (Notice how half of Driven’s scenes where talking is involved also include shouting and finger pointing? That can’t be a mistake, right? Like the director, or producers, or writers, or all of them, had some special formula on the perfect talk-to-yell ratio, and they watched that number like a wonky oil pressure gauge. Maybe they were fans of the band The Pixies, who perfected the quiet-loud-quiet-loud alt-rock formula that Nirvana openly copied. Maybe.)
1h28m34s: The showdown has finally arrived. On the streets of Detroit. Which had never been the season finale for CART, but we cut any ties to reality forever ago, right?
1h28m48s: Havoline Racing girls! (That was a thing?)
1h29m12s: DEMILLE’s been used by Estella! The contract for German JPM was a sham! Revenge for being mean to her. He baits her into throwing a punch. She punches him. (Captain, My Captain, has been served. Suck it DEMILLE!)
1h29m33s: Havoline Racing Girls again? Oh no, we aren’t done there. Cut to the buxom blonde woman, eating the world’s longest churro. Note the shirtless, chain-fondling bro-dude mesmerized by the sight at the back of the shot.
(And if there’s any doubt as to whether it was staged, cut to a closeup of her slowly munching on the sugary fried phallus. Thought we hit cinematic rock bottom 15 times before the 1h29m33s mark? No, you silly person. And guess what? SHE’S THE SAME WOMAN WHO ATE THE HOT DOG AT 27m10s! DRIVEN CAST A WOMAN TO WALK THROUGH CROWDS AND EAT TUBULAR OBJECTS!)
1h29m37s: Lightly dressed women on pit lane in Surfers Paradise in Australia! While we’re in Detroit! More women follow at random tracks.
1h31m58s: Jimmy’s still hurt, but wants Sir Smokey The Williams to put him in for the last race. He passes the first test, which is real, and meets the minimum extraction time from the cockpit.
(But the second, the ‘vertical test,’ where Sir Burt tells Bly to hop on his injured foot ten times, is milked like the training scene from Rocky 4 where Balboa lifts the Russian ox cart filled with his wife and posse, grunting like he’s giving birth to a bowling ball before collapsing in a heap of exhaustion. All that’s missing from Driven is the song ‘Hearts on Fire.’ Jimmy passes both tests and will drive!)
1h32m40s: Half-naked Max Papis!
1h32m52s: Contemplative Colombian JPM! True fiction!
1h32m58s: Drivers and crew members dropping their kids off at some sort of trackside kindergarten? OK, that’s weird. (And has never happened before a race. #Semantics)
1h33m03s: Driven director Renny Harlin, posing as a driver, dropping off his real son at this day care!
1h33m18s: We’re taking a bizarre end-of-movie directorial call where actual IndyCar drivers are putting notes from their kids, and rocks, and taped photos, inside their race suits. (Whether those drivers actually had children is immaterial. Plot > reality.)
1h33m33s: Sleepy Tony Kanaan!
1h34m03s: The announcer says that if Jimmy wins the race, he’s the CART champion. (Also, nice grandstand shot of Chicagoland from the beginning of the movie!)
1h34m22s: Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi! Shaking The Hummer’s hand! (Stallone was determined to make his F1 movie, even if it’s in spiteful micro scenes.)
1h35m06: It’s really smoky on the starting grid at Detrago.
1h35m35s: Joe straps into Memo’s former car, which was once his car, but was actually Memo’s car before that. (Question: Does anyone recall Sir Burt telling The Hummer he’d be driving in the season finale? Was that a grand assumption that didn’t need saying? Or did Sly…wait, I just got that. Bly. Sly. Sly. Bly. How have I missed that for 19 years? I’m not kidding. Anyways, did Sly just jack his way into an IndyCar race? Confusion, thine sting is insufferable.)
1h35m50s: (Time for another insider racing secret: When drivers prepare to race, they don’t listen to anything other than monks chanting over discarded techno Enya tracks. #4Realz.)
1h36m39s: The announcer, brunette Troy McClure, says Jimmy Bly is starting in the 26th pole position because he didn’t qualify. (That thing where you don’t hire someone who knows racing to help oversee the script and scrub the stupid things out before filming. “Look, the goalie hit a 3-pointer touchdown into the basket!” Also, thank goodness this didn’t become a thing. The thought of crappy drivers insisting they qualified in ‘19th pole position’ is too damn much.)
1h36m51s: Hello again, Surfers Paradise.
1h37m15s: Hello again, Long Beach. Set to Eric B. & Rakim’s ‘Follow The Leader.’ Hmmm. (We endure a movie’s worth of musical garbage, and one of the greatest rap duos on the planet is saved for the last race? I have a headache.)
1h37m43s: I can’t. I just can’t. As if the endless parade of cartoonish crashes weren’t exhausting by now, we have Driven’s worst pileup to deal with at Detroit. And an animated German oval. And Long Beach.
(And you know how it ends up? The one guy with a movie-long target on his back, Roberto Moreno, gets stuffed into the tire barrier here. It must have been a running joke. Like in that movie Twister where the storm chasers end up getting chased by tornadoes throughout the Midwest, like, non-stop. Whenever The Hummer and the rest of the production staff were spit-balling who’d be in each crash scene, they all blurted out “ROBERTO MORENO” in unison and cackled like hyenas. Next thing we know, it’s Roberto doing his Simone Biles impression on the IndyCar pommel horse, or whatever gravity-defying end to his race they’ve dreamed up. I hope Roberto kicked Sly in the nuts on his way out of the premiere. OK, back to the crash sequence.)
A driver crashes on the oval and a front wheel assembly shoots at least 100 feet high.
It comes crashing down in the grandstands, but with God’s merciful hand at the wheel, where it finds the one seat that was unoccupied. Driven was filmed not too long after something like this actually happened, but many real people were killed, which triggered plenty of folks in the CART series at the time. #Classy.
Oddly once more, the crashing oval car is Joe Tanto’s machine. But it’s also not. It’s a Mo Nunn Racing entry. But the film cuts between the two cars. They just put Nunn’s sponsor Pioneer on the sidepods of Tanto’s animated car.
(And we’ve moved north of the border to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. And now I recognize the strange road course footage that pooped its way into The Hummer’s quarter trick sequence. It was Turn 1 at Montreal, only shot in reverse. Aha! And hello to the film crew in the upper left of the frame! But now, we have Cristiano da Matta in the actual Nunn car, or rather, the fake car made to look like Shorty’s car, plus Oriol Servia’s dayglo yellow Telefonica car, and more, crashing into Montreal Turn 1, going the proper direction. And there’s more flying cars. I can’t overstate how draining this has become to watch.)
1h38m24s: After more quick cuts showing Vasser as German JPM, Long Beach, and the other Detroit gems, we’ve gone back to the car-to-car intercom between Tanto, in last, and Bly, one spot ahead of him. (Remember how Joe’s just there to support Jimmy? TEAMWORK! Now they’ll need to work together to make their way to the front. Could Bly, after a whole year of ups and downs, be peaking at precisely the right time? Say it’s true!)
1h38m31s: Green flag at Detroit! (With the flagger in Australia!)
1h38m55s: DOUBLE SHIFT-PASS! This is AMAZING!
1h39m11s: Detroit oval!
1h39m32s: Long Beach! (Was there some sort of editing bounty where the guy or gal who could cram the greatest number of wrong tracks into a single event got a giant bonus? Or they got to take the rest of the film off? Or did we already determine they left long ago and figured wild cats would walk across the keyboards in the editing bay and do a sufficient job on their own?)
1h40m02s: The Devil is a liar! (Demons, sent to earth, volunteered to hold signs reading ‘Keep Humming Joe’ and ‘Marry Me Jimmy.’ It’s taking all my strength to avoid shooting the television.)
1h40m26s: You’ve got to be sh*****g me. ANOTHER CRASH SEQUENCE. In horrific CGI, no less. At Montreal.
(And, somehow, da Matta’s involved again. But his car was destroyed in the first Detroit crash sequence where his front wheel assembly went into the stands. And yet he’s somehow back in the race. I need a hug.)
1h40m33s: Renny Harlin has crashed, and the paperclip he’s driving has all but exploded during its flight. Plus, more steel tubeframe exposure. And more cars over the fence and into the water, including Michael Andretti.
(You know how at some of those music festivals where old bands from the 1980s or 1990s fill the bill, and half the bands are one-hit wonders? So they go onstage, sing the only song everyone knows, and in some cases—the smart bands—leave immediately. But then there’s the other one-hit wonders, who believe that if they just keep playing other songs which, admittedly, all sound vaguely similar to the hit, but far less interesting, fans will learn to really love their artistry? That’s Driven. Its big hit was a monster crash sequence. So rather than take a bow and gracefully leave the stage, they keep playing, throwing similar crashes—more cars here, more fire there, more water landings—Michael Andretti this time…more moon launches—that numb the senses to the point of no return while hoping the audience will reach a state of orgasmo-rapture. At this point, I expect the credits at the end of the movie to crash into each other.)
1h40m48s: Is this da Matta crashing and going airborne for the third time in the same race? Can’t be.
1h41m04s: It’s Divine Intervention! Michael Andretti is racing a submarine! He’s driving on pit lane after diving deep into the lake at Montreal and charting an underwater course to Detroit!
(Being serious here: The editors are DGAF all-stars, in my book. On how many occasions in Driven have they purposely ignored whatever just happened on screen to drop visual contradictions in our lap? Like, 15 seconds ago, Andretti’s unmistakable black car crashed and went into the lake. Fifteen seconds later, they bolt in footage of Andretti’s unmistakable black car rolling without damage like nothing happened. DGAF all-stars, these editors!)
1h41m28s: IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS! (What are the odds we’d get to the final race of the season, in the final laps of the championship, and it’s a 1-2-3 of German JPM, Jimmy Bly, and Joe Tanto? My faith in humanity is restored.)
1h41m32s: LUCRETIA’s ALIVE! She’s on Joe’s timing stand! I’m so happy!
1h41m45s: Jimmy does the shift-pass! Go get Beau!
1h42m28s: What on flat earth is going on now? Amid jump-cuts to Toronto and Montreal, and more bad race car CGI, Jimmy has put his spoon passing technique to good work and moved ahead of Brandenburg for the lead. But Bly’s feeling the heat from behind. Beau’s trying to shift-pass left and right, which is triggering Jimmy. He’s sweating. Sir Burt Williams is giving him driving instructions. Joe’s in his ear telling him he can do it. BUT CAN HE? CAN HE?
1h42m56s: DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! German JPM finally made the shift-pass work, and retook the lead. How will Bly respond? HOW?
1h43m00s: Happy Mike Hull!
1h43m25s: NO WAAAAAY! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS! Joe ‘The Hummer’ Tanto is starting to HUM! (And WHAT THE F*** DOES THAT MEAN, EXACTLY? HE’S NOT HERE TO WIN!)
1h43m45s: JOE PASSES JIMMY! (I’M CONFUSED TO THE 10th POWER!)
1h43m54s: One lap to go at Detroit! (Says the flagger shown in Chicago.)
1h44m08s: Tanto shift-pass-jumps his way INTO THE LEAD! (And breaks his left-front suspension upon landing.)
1h44m19s: JOE’S SCREWED! He falls back and lets the two young lions settle the championship on their own!
1h45m31s: SHIFT-PASS FIGHT! IN A PERFECTLY-LIT STUDIO SETTING! First it’s Jimmy, then it’s Beau, then it’s Jimmy. It’s a drag race and they’re evenly matched. WHO WILL WIN?
1h45m59s: IT’S NECK AND NECK, Y’ALL!
1h46m00s: SPOILER ALERT: IT’S JIMMY! IT’S JIMMY! HE DID IT! THIS IS THE MOST ANTI-CLIMACTIC THING EVER! (And Joe spun across the finish line to claim third!)
1h46m18s: The Heguy family, sorry, the Morenos celebrate Jimmy’s championship in Memos hospital room. (He sure looks healthy for a guy who couldn’t drive!)
1h46m36s: Like a cruel form of punishment for watching until the end, that terrifying music from the opening at Long Beach, where they sing about California, but now we’re in Detroit (when we aren’t in Montreal and a half-dozen other tracks), which really REALLY doesn’t fit.
1h47m37s: The rent was due, and they decided to pay up. Jimmy, the new champion, is on the podium. The correct podium. Not Toronto. Not Japan. But Detroit. Where he belongs. They let us have it. Maybe the editors don’t hate us, after all.
1h47m38s: Well, forget that notion. Cut to the crowd shot at Chicago. F*** me.
1h48m55s: DEMILLE and Jimmy lock eyes. They wistfully nod. All is forgiven.
1h49m32s. AND SCENE! (After the better part of two punishing hours, Driven has met its end. I feel like I need grief counseling. Or shock therapy. Did my father breast feed me enough when I was a baby? Life is a flat circle, isn’t it? I’m left a shell of a man after spending upwards of 18 hours to watch and annotate Driven. I hear Jim Morrison’s voice in my head. ‘This is the end, my friend…’ Could it be?)
1h49m59s: Hell no. Of course they list Memo Moreno as ‘Memo Heguy’ in the credits. And his wife, Joe’s ex, Cathy? No last name. But it’s obviously Heguy. Or Moreno. Or both. And Lucretia. Yep, last name is listed as ‘Clan.’ Went back and listened to Sir Burt at the 16m00s mark, and he definitely said ‘Lucretia Jones.’
(And that’s Driven. A movie that wanted to be something else from the beginning, didn’t know what it was in its new, non-F1 guise, and spent one hour, 49 minutes, and 32 seconds turning drama into unintentional comedy that wasn’t always funny. But it was always bad. Titanic badness. You remember that mid-1980s band ‘Aha,’ and their video for ‘Take On Me’? The one where it’s filmed, but right away, the film starts turning into hand-sketched art, and next thing you know, the whole video has become animated? That’s Driven, in reverse. I think it was made as an animated cartoon, but somehow—I bet Cyberdyne Systems was to blame—the cartoon became self-aware and started replacing the animated characters with real video. ‘Aha,’ but backwards. We just watched animation overlaid with real actors to try and hide the fact it’s really a cartoon. There’s no other explanation that makes more sense. Abstract s***, racing fans.)
IF you’ve made it this far, you definitely deserve a keepsake, so please right-click to save the images and enjoy an original movie pass to the Hollywood premiere (thanks to my pal Steve Shunck for sending them) which have been appropriately altered to celebrate this 19th anniversary moment with MP’s Driven Viewer’s Guide.
And if you’re reading these final words, just know how sick you are. And thank you for that sickness.