Appellate Judge Tom Becker was born to thumb.
"I want you to think about all the innocent people who are going to have to suffer because of your selfishness and greed."—Jack Steele, echoing my sentiments toward the people behind Born to Ride
Is there some federal law that says every half-baked idea has to be turned into a Direct-to-DVD production? Is the country operating on some kind of quota system that says the economy will tank even worse if hideous and simple-minded D2DVDs aren't released at the rate of 12 a day, or something?
Born to Ride is like an unsold pilot episode for a basic-cable adventure series, the kind that the programming wizards at the USA network would have laughed out of the room. It ambles along with no particular story or point of view, and features shoddy production values and phone-it-in performances. The half-assedry on display here is stupefying.
We open with a grizzled-looking guy from a biker Web site saying, "It's good to be able to interview a regular biker," then see that he's talking to Mike (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers) who, with his perfectly coiffed hair and beard and flawless skin, looks less like a "regular biker" than an FBI agent who's about to unsuccessfully infiltrate the Hells Angels. The interview is about Mike's daring exploits in bringing down corrupt congressman Clayton (Kurt Andon, Kiss of Death). We then cut to what is evidently a flashback, laying out the story of how Mike became a hero of honest politics.
A few problems with this framing device:
1. Most of the flashback stuff involving the congressman took place without
Mike being there, so he couldn't actually be recounting this story;
In any event…Mike and his doofus buddy, Alex (Patrick Muldoon, Melrose Place), set out on a motorcycle trip. Before they even leave town, they see an older guy getting mugged. They stop the mugging, but the older guy ends up knifed. Turns out, the guy is a Viet Nam vet, and since Mike's dad was killed in 'Nam, a bond is formed. The guy was on his way to mail his daughter a box full of money to help pay for treatment of some nondescript ailment afflicting her son. Why he was planning on putting a box of cash in the mail is anybody's guess, but Mike offers to deliver it personally.
In the meantime, sleazy Congressman Clayton has set up a rendezvous with criminal mastermind (or something) Jack Steele (William Forsythe, The Devil's Rejects) and a couple of guys who want inside info on a government contract (or something). Clayton is promised a $2 million payday for this info.
Unfortunately, the meeting is set at a hotel where smarmy conceirge Gary (Jamison Jones, He Was a Quiet Man) has a lucrative side business spying on the guests and then blackmailing them. Gary's brother David (Dave Goryl, There's Something About Mary) sets up spycams, gives the footage to Gary, and the two split the proceeds. Gary was expecting to see the congressman fooling with young girls, so imagine his avaricious surprise at this new development.
In the meantime, Mike and Alex ride and ride and ride, eventually ending up at the modest home of Mike's mom. This happy reunion hits a sour note when Mom informs Mike that his father did not actually die in Viet Nam; he was killed on a bike run. Since Mike has made a big deal of his dad being a dead war hero, he finds this news devastating, but it's not nearly as devastating as the casting here. Playing Mike's mom is Theresa Russell (Insignificance). That's right, 54-year-old Theresa Russell has been cast as the mother of 42-year-old Casper Van Dien. "I was so young when I met your father," she sobs. Like what, fifth grade? I shudder to think…
Anyway, this provides some much-needed tension between Mike and his Benjamin Button-like mom, but then Mom pulls a reconciliation trump card right out of the A Rose for Emily playbook: she's kept dad's chopper in a box in the garage all these years, and now she's giving it to Mike. This gives the filmmakers an opportunity to further pad the running time with an irrelevant sequence of bikers coming by to fix up the old motorcycle, and then our boys are on the road again, where they ride and ride and ride.
In the meantime, back at the hotel, the bad guys have figured out Gary's scheme. They tie him up and beat him, and Jack Steele menaces him as only William Forsythe can—or, a William Forsythe imitator, maybe. Fortunately for the villains, David shows up with the incriminating tape. Unfortunately, David runs away. Fortunately, Jack Steele has two henchman who give chase. Unfortunately, the two henchman are out of shape clowns and don't catch David. Fortunately—for David—there's a biker party right next door to the hotel, and guess who's there? Even more fortunately, David knows Alex and has no trouble slipping the film into his buddy's knapsack.
Unfortunately, that's where David runs out of fortunatelies. The goons catch him, and he and Gary end up in the drink, or wherever bad guys stow corpses. This makes confusing the fact that the story is being recounted by Mike, since the only two people who could have given him all these details have been killed before they talked to him, but no matter.
So, for the rest of the film—and we're only at midpoint!—the baddies hunt down the noble bikers, and Born to Ride becomes an intense chase flick.
Only, it doesn't. Most of the remainder of the film is taken up with the "comedic" misadventures of Steele's goons and some business about the money from the Viet Nam vet (remember him?) being stolen. In one of the most egregious rip-offs in bad movie history, one of the goons even appropriates a line from the Patrick Swayze trash classic Road House—the famous one, in which Marshall Teague's Jimmy delicately explains how he used to treat fellows like Swayze's Dalton in prison.
As far as the big finish? When the goons finally, finally catch up with the boys? Well, Mike saves the day in a fascinating and ballsy manner. I don't want to ruin it, but it involves a cell phone and the numbers 9-1-1.
Image Entertainment sent over a screener, the kind where the words "For Screening Purposes Only" pop up every 20 minutes or so, so I can't even comment on the quality of the disc.
And that's it. Seriously. Ninety minutes of your life tossed out like so many Mardi Gras beads on a dull anecdote that you wouldn't have listened to for five minutes. That's Born to Ride. There is nothing to recommend about this movie. It's not exciting, it's not funny, it's atrociously acted and plotted—for the life of me, I can't figure out why this thing even exists. As far as biker movies go, I found myself longing for the comparatively grittier and wittier Old Dogs. Yes, it's that bad.
It's the pointlessness of this whole affair that gets me. Why tell a story if you've no story to tell?
And putting a couple of boneheads on motorcycles does not a "biker movie" make.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
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