starring Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, Chris Williams, Annie Whittle
written and directed by Roger Donaldson
by Walter Chaw Kiwi filmmaker Roger Donaldson follows up his intensely impersonal The Recruit with the intensely personal The World's Fastest Indian, a fictionalization of a documentary he shot some thirty years ago about dotty old coot Burt Munro, who in 1967 set a land speed record for motorcycles under 1000ccs on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. Funny how the results of both are sanded down almost beyond recognition: so baptized are they in the scouring attentions of high-grade clichés that they're inhumanly frictionless. See Burt (Anthony Hopkins) dodder around his shack in Invercargill, deliver long, rambling monologues and homey homilies like "if you don't follow through on your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable" to whoever will listen, and rebuke that he's no "POME" to repeated Yankee inquiries as to whether or not he's British. (Here I am thinking that "POME" (Prisoners of Mother England) referred to Australians--the one thing I learned over the course of the picture's interminable, 127-minute runtime.) It's the kind of movie where a lovable--maybe even magical--old imp lightens the life of every lost soul he meets, including a transvestite, a crotchety sea captain, a beatific little boy (think "Finding Geezerland"), and a pair of randy old birds. His charm knows no boundaries--and the universal adoration lavished upon him within the film is bound to dupe certain segments of the audience like a spit-soaked laugh-track that can only "awww." The World's Fastest Indian aims to make old people huggable and mythological while Hopkins drones on incessantly to extras trying to look interested, to inanimate objects, and most of all to himself. No mystery why Hopkins climbed on board, the only mystery is why anyone else did. Originally published: November 10, 2005.