2007, Movie, PG-13, 93 mins


It may not be the worst race-car movie ever made, but this noisy valentine to producer Daniel Sedak's personal collection of exotic cars makes 2001's THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (which, ironically, was shot as "Redline") look brilliant by virtue of its sheer competence.

Knockout Natasha "Nat" Martin (Nadia Bjorlin) is every 12-year-old boy's dream: She's stacked, never met a skin-tight top she didn't like, drives like a demon, and can disassemble an engine with her eyes shut — she and her mom (Barbara Niven) run an upscale auto shop and soup up high-performance vehicles. Oh, and Nat's in a band called Moving Violation, the better to purr lyrics like "I wanna be your car tonight/So you can grip me like a steering wheel." No wonder shady "businessman" and world-class nutjob Michael D'Orazio (Angus Macfadyen) is bewitched from the minute he lays eyes on Nat at an illegal drag race arranged by his pal Jerry Brecken (Tim Matheson). Michael, action-movie auteur Jerry and motormouthed rapper Infamous (Eddie Griffin) are part of a billionaire boys club whose members collect and race obscenely expensive exotic sports cars, betting seven-figure sums just to make things interesting. Nat gave up racing after her daddy was killed on the track, but Infamous tricks her into replacing his regular driver in a two-car race that ends with the other driver — Michael's callow but sweet-natured nephew, Jason (Jesse Johnson) — dead and Nat unconscious. The dissolute Michael seizes the opportunity to spirit Nat away to his heavily fortified desert mansion, but his other nephew, the righteous Carlo (Nathan Phillips), shows up to avenge Jason's death and settles for rescuing Nat. Before the high-speed wrap-up, Mom gets kidnapped, Michael's underworld associates get nasty, Nat is forced to race against the driver who "killed" her dad, and a bunch of limber girls do yoga while a helicopter hovers overhead.

Costa Mesa-based real-estate mogul Sadek sacrificed $25 million and one of his beloved cars (two if you count the one Griffin subsequently totaled at a promotional event) for this exercise in auto porn, which ostensibly stars his former fiancee, soap-opera actress Bjorlin. The lesson is that money can buy a vanity project, but it can't buy talent, imagination or an audience. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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