THE WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN
BIG THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
The World’s Fastest Indian is NOT a Native American. I was naive enough (when I first saw the title) to believe this might be so. Oh well. Even so, I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, I was educated. Never having heard of the astounding accomplishment of this aged New Zealander, I now feel honored to have been privy to a man of unique stamina and determination.
Burt Monro is this man—one of indeterminate age but obviously old enough to collect his pension—and has been working on his 1920 Indian motorcycle for four decades. His goal is to make it go faster ...and faster ...and faster. But his methods appear substandard. He works (and lives) in a shed without appropriate casting material. His gas cap is a whiskey cork, his brakes non-existent. But Burt has a dream. He wants to set a land-speed record in Bonneville, Utah at the salt flats. Thus our journey begins. But getting from New Zealand to the U.S. is costly and Burt doesn’t have much money. So we watch him struggle with finances and dilapidated equipment in order to make his dream a reality. Once in the States, Burt befriends everyone he meets with his easy-going manner and his dogged determination. He runs into crooked car salesmen and horny older women (Burt is somewhat of a "hound-dog" himself). But through it all, regardless of where he stops, he has the underlying need to keep moving toward Bonneville. And, finally, he makes it there ...only to be told that he should’ve registered months ago and can’t participate in the speed ceremonies. Crushed beyond words, Burt musters the support of the local speed freaks and finally gets his day on the salt.
And, much to the surprise of the officials (who thought he’d crash and burn or maybe hit 100 miles per hour), Burt accomplishes the impossible: a new land speed record! At one point, his Little-Indian-That-Could went over 200 mph!
This is an extremely entertaining film for two basic reasons. First is because it’s a human interest story that everyone can identify with: going after your dreams regardless of what others say or how old you are. The second is because of Sir Anthony Hopkins. His performance was the fuel that drove this film. His mannerisms and accent fit Burt Monro’s to a tee (you’ll discover this if you watch a few of the DVD’s extra features).
There were a few blips and bumps in the film (the rapid telling of a relationship with a woman in the U.S. which felt forced for time, etc.), but these were easily overlooked by Mr. Hopkins performance and the incredible story. My hat’s off to director Roger Donaldson. His passion for Mr. Monro (and this material) shone through like sun on a silver platter. Nicely done!