“Torque” apparently aims to do for action movies what “Scream” did for horror flicks.
It’s extremely aware of the conventions of its predecessors — including “The Fast and the Furious,” “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “XXX,” all of which were produced by Neal H. Moritz, the producer of “Torque” — and it has a gratuitous good time making fun of them.
Not that these movies needed to be held up for their innate ridiculousness; they’re practically parodies of themselves already.
But “Torque” — sort of a beer commercial within a Kid Rock video within an X Games competition — takes it a step further, with fights and motorcycle chases that will simultaneously inspire awe and hysterical laughter.
The most thrilling features our hero, biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson), being chased by Trey (Ice Cube), the leader of a rival motorcycle gang, on top of, inside and in front of a passenger train speeding across the Southern California desert.
Later, in a rare moment of introspection, Cary states, “I live my life a quarter-mile at a time,” a regurgitation of one of Vin Diesel’s more groan-inducing lines from “The Fast and the Furious.”
“That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard,” his motorcycle mama girlfriend, Shane (Monet Mazur), responds. (Cue the knowing laughter in the audience.)
Plot? There's a plot?!?Did somebody ask about a plot? No? Well, here it is anyway: Cary returns home after suddenly leaving town several months ago and finds himself being pursued by the villainous Henry (Matt Schulze), whose motorcycles he stole — and the bikes contained Henry’s crystal meth stash.
Cary also has been framed for the murder of Trey’s younger brother, so Trey is after him, too. And he’s trying to elude FBI agent McPherson (Adam Scott), who — with his stylishly messy hair, lanky frame and condescending attitude — would have been the popular guy who rejected Molly Ringwald in a John Hughes movie in the ’80s.
Meanwhile, Cary is trying to win back the heart of Shane, the woman he abandoned without explanation. It’s a wonder he finds time to maintain his perfectly roguish amount of facial scruff.
None of this really matters, though. It’s all a construct for the testosterone-fueled adventures — and there seem to be a lot of them for a movie that’s not even 90 minutes long.
Guys — at whom this movie is squarely aimed — will especially enjoy the fight between Shane and Henry’s girlfriend (Jaime Pressly as a pierced, tattooed goth queen), in which they kick and punch each other (and seem to be on the verge of making out) while zooming side-by-side on their motorcycles, looking flawless.
Of course, no one expects anything resembling reality in a movie like “Torque.” But by the end, director Joseph Kahn — best known for Eminem’s “Without Me” video, here making his first feature — divorces “Torque” completely from film and turns it into a video game.
The climactic chase through downtown Los Angeles — in which Cary rides a motorcycle powered by a jet engine that goes from zero to 200 mph in 10 seconds — is a cartoonish blur of computer-generated imagery.
It makes the final battle between Neo and Agent Smith in the third “Matrix” movie look like a Discovery Channel documentary by comparison.