THIS MOVIE'S BORING. That's the first thing you need to know. But once you accept the fact that you're not gonna see any hot tits or gushing blood geysers or flashy CG, this two-hour depiction of motorcycle legend Burt Munro's underdoggy style is fucking awesome. It's a mild-flavored film—all quiet man-versus-himself determination, big sprawling vistas, themes of mortality, aging sexuality, and self-reliance. Anthony Hopkins, it must be said, has called this his best role ever, which should mean a lot considering some of the great shit he's given us. (Despite dude acting in some seriously ridiculous wastes of celluloid, I'll go to bat for films like The Human Stain and The Bounty any day.)
In The World's Fastest Indian, Hopkins plays Munro, an old-as-dirt New Zealander pushed by his longtime dream to take his souped-up, jury-rigged Indian racing bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and break the land speed record. That's established quick, and the rest is a slow tracing documentation of his 1967 odyssey, and the Odyssey-ian characters he meets (including good-hearted sleazebag car dealer "Fernando" played by Paul fuckin' Rodriguez! Where you been, Paul?!)
While the best—and weirdest—characters show up in the US scenes, the New Zealand footage is beautifully shot, and big—huge, massive. Thanks go to the casting director and vocal coaches for not pouring on the Kiwi accents (a thick New Zealand accent sounds more like a turkey gobbling than real human speech). Downside: As Hopkins makes his way through America, we end up hitting some corny-ass, painful, Hallmark moments, awkward repetitive moralizing, and—worst of all—nuclear-powered emotional manipulation fit for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan flicks. Still, all told, the kickass motorcycle scenes and Hopkins' acting push all the Chuck E. Cheese far from the foreground, and in the end, we're left with nothing but a gorgeously shot story that has damn good acting. Best boring movie ever.