23 November 2012

Film: Motorway (2012)

Thoughts: Motorway was absolutely fantastic. The film echoes Drive, but where Drive was a like an existential nightmare, Motorway strikes more as an existential dream. Characterization is pared down to exist solely through these men through their cars, as they use them to do battle on the streets of (I believe) Kowloon. Using smart camera tricks and an emphasis on slick extended action sequences, Motorway does everything it needs to for a tense, exciting, entertaining 97mins.

Anthony Wong and Shawn Yue are road cops, with the former waiting for retirement, and the latter waiting to get out on the road and chase down bad guys. Both are above-average chase specialists, but the younger and more hot-headed keeps running off to play the hero. Suddenly, a new, very dangerous criminal element makes themselves known to the police, and the race is on for these two groups to literally play a live-action version of Cops & Robbers.

The action in Motorway- of which there is much- is presented like a dance, practically as large-scale martial arts sequences, replacing fists and swords with bumpers and wheels. The cars weave, spin, slide and blaze through all sorts of locations: highways, alleys, parking complexes, docks, and mountain passes. The camera is constantly finding new and more amazing ways of shooting the action, without ever being obvious or overly-processed. When the action starts, the music is either dropped entirely or replaced with a very subtle industrial throb- one of several reflections of Drive that film offers. Aside from the police station or drug meet scenes, there is little dialogue, and the camera places itself into the cars on multiple occasions. Where Drive explores the nature of the driver, and what it means for him to feel and live, Motorway uses the idea of driving as an escape mechanism, and a means of displaying how one feels. While there isn't much structurally to the film, technically the whole thing is a marvel to behold.

It's true, the characters are flat, and the story exists only to get the whole thing for A to B to C, but coming here for the style and action is why I signed up, and I was very, VERY pleased. The acting is good enough, and the romance kept to a minimum. This is all about the journey, and I'm glad I took the time to travel along the path. Here's to hoping I can again in the future, and on stunning blu-ray too (this was a rented DVD).


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