Redline (2007)

Nathan Phillips stars in Daniel Sadek's wealthy car-porn thriller. Signature UK R0 DVD.

The Film

Natasha is a car mechanic who earns the attention of Infamous, a record producer, after sprucing up his sports car. He invites her to come and perform at a high-stakes race event where his cars are competing against those of three other multimillionaires and at the event he encourages her to race in exchange for a record contract. Meanwhile Carlo (Nathan Phillips) has returned from the Army to find his younger brother involved in the racing scene on behalf of their 'dirty money rich' Uncle Michael. Michael and Infamous up the wager on a race between their drivers, but it will end in tragedy with repercussions...

The film's creator, Daniel Sadek, was one of the wealthiest men in America, trading in subprime mortgages and has often been cited as one of the main players in the subsequent 2008 financial crisis - as a result, a vanity film of his, featuring his extensive super-car collection and with characters flaunting excessive wealth was never really going to prove popular and the approach will doubtless alienate a large number of viewers.

Ignoring this however, Redline is a daftly enjoyable film. Brazenly riding the nitro-fuelled coat tails of The Fast and the Furious (2001), going as far as to borrow the original working title from that film, Sadek's script is a fast moving mix of underground racing and thriller elements. As you would expect from the genre, the storyline is pretty contrived and borders on the ridiculous in places but it is surprisingly detailed, with good selection of characters, making it rather hard at first to identify the heroes and villains of the piece. Like most underground racing films, it doesn't pay to think too hard about these races, where homogolation or post-race scrutineering (even though some cars seem to have Nitro boost and not others) are presumably unheard of and drivers seem to endlessly change gears, while never considering wearing helmets or HANS devices (despite numerous references to the death of Natasha's father in a wreck) - at least for the most part the races take place on airfields or closed roads which explains how they are able to set up without police interference. Never letting up on the pacing, the storyline moves briskly between fighting and racing scenes, working towards a fitting, if rather predictable climax before wrapping things up to close with an utterly daft coda.

In only his second directorial role, Andy Cheng, a veteran stunt co-ordinator, does a pretty decent job - obviously looking to mimic the Fast and the Furious films the race scenes are a hyperactivity of moving shots and gear-box/pedal close-ups, while this does make for a good impression of speed, it does make the races rather hard to follow (even if they are all quite predictable) and one of the film's highlights - the trashing of a couple of real supercars from Sadek's collection - is completely nullified by the over-editing. In keeping with the source material, the film is firmly locked in PG-13 territory and so the violence is generally bloodless and the bevvy of bikini-clad women draped over cars remain thusly dressed, although Cheng's camera does almost fetishistically peer down tops at times in a move that betrays the target teenage demographic. A few dialogue scenes are edited a little choppily - the introductions for the final race being a particular example and it feels like quite a bit has been trimmed out, although it is not particularly significant. A nice touch is that although the music is pretty generic, unlike many other similar titles, the volume is rather toned down - not blaring out over the action scenes but taking second fiddle to the car engine notes.

Young Australian actor Nathan Phillips came to this film after the instant-cult-classic Snakes on a Plane (2006) [and it certainly would have been interesting to see how Redline fared had its producers re-targeted it at an older demographic as they did with that film] and he is by far the best thing in it, looking particularly good in the fight scenes even if the script never gives him much to do elsewhere. Actress Nadia Bjorlin was engaged to producer Daniel Sadek at the time and looked to the role as a way of breaking out from appearing for over a decade on American TV soap Days of Our Lives as well as pushing her musical career - like Phillips she certainly tries (and Cheng's camera makes sure to demonstrate the power of her generally low-cut wardrobe) but the script never really gives her a chance to show off any acting talent. Comedian Eddie Griffin plays a cliché obnoxious music producer (a part he seems to fall into rather too easily) while Angus Macfadyen gives an utterly bizarre performance that is quite possibly a great impression of someone on cocaine, or just a determined attempt to add to the absurdity of the whole piece. Perhaps fittingly for a film boasting such fiscal recklessness, two pro-poker players (David Williams and Gus Hansen) cameo as themselves in a poker scene.

Perhaps due to its somewhat inopportune timing and self-congratulatory wealth display, Redline has been generally overlooked and failed abysmally in the cinema - certainly it is not without flaws, the storyline is largely nonsense, the camerawork in the races is stricken with ADHD and the acting is hardly top draw - but that could easily be said of the Fast and the Furious films as well and fans of this series and its kin will find plenty to enjoy in this high-octane production and bad movie fans could not help but enjoy the absurd ride that, at a trim ninety minutes, never outstays its welcome.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Nathan Phillips - the Australian actor broke out with a lead role in horror Wolf Creek (2005)
Directed by anyone interesting? Andy Cheng - a major Hollywood stunt director, working on films like The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and Twilight (2008), his only other directing credit to date was thriller End Game (2006)
Any gore or violence ? Minimal blood
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Fans of the Fast and the Furious will certainly enjoy this, others probably less so.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The digital print receives a flawless transfer.
Audio English 5.1 and 2.0 - both sound clear.
Subtitles None.
Extras The disc includes:
  • 6 behind the scenes clips showing the filming of the race and crash scenes. Interesting to watch, 10 minutes total.
  • Beinhd the scenes with Eddie Griffin - footage from the above, culled into a brief promo piece, 3 minutes.
  • 'Nadia Montage' - a pointless compliation of Nadia Bjorlin's driving scenes. Much lower quality transfer than the DVD, 2 minutes.
  • Original trailer.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Also available on Blu-ray in the UK and on DVD in the US.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 23rd June 2013.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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