Motorsports, it seems, have undergone a bit of a renaissance. A few years ago, it was seen by many as the preserve of blokes, those who would happily spend a Sunday morning performing an oil change, before cruising down an A road, blasting Golden Earring from a tape cassette. Things are different now, due in part to a series of fantastic films about racing. The excellent Senna kicked things off, and that was followed closely by the universally praised TT3D: Closer to the Edge.
Preceding these films, however, was 2003’s Faster, a documentary about the MotoGP directed by Mark Neale. Perhaps in the wake of the above films, Neale has decided to revisit Motosport. With Hollywood’s resident motorcycle super-fan Ewan McGregor back on board to provide the narration, Fastest is a balls to the wall look into the 2010 season of the MotoGP, focusing primarily on the âGreatest of all Timeâ?, Valentino Rossi.
Whilst the film takes a retroactive view on his life, for the benefit of those unfamiliar with him or the sport, the majority of the film takes place when Rossi is firmly established as the best racer of his generation. Fastest is hardly an underdog story, but there is still that all important obstacle for the protagonist to overcome. In this case, it’s not just the fellow racers, or Rossi’s arch rival, but the injury that Rossi sustains which threatens his career as a racer.
On top of the human interest drama is the real meat of the film â the races themselves. With plenty of first person camera shots, we’re treated to seeing the events as the drivers do, and it’s a blast. Every impossible turn, every stomach churning acceleration and overtake is edited impeccably, and it’s as nail-biting as anything you’re likely to find in a documentary.
Despite this, the film does have some flaws. I wonder if my enjoyment of it would have been lessened or enhanced had I been a MotoGP fan. On one hand, whilst I found the racing scenes gripping, I wondered if I was watching a series of highlights and some âand they walked awayâ? footage interspersed with a biography of Rossi, something an avid MotoGP enthusiast would be well versed in already.
Despite the title and subject matter, Fastest clocks in at nearly two hours, which might put some flakier fans off. Yet fully-fledged petrol-heads are almost guaranteed to lap every minute up. Rossi is a vibrant and film friendly character, and the race scenes, as discussed, were thrilling.
As such, Fastest is enjoyable stuff. There’s enough âunder the bonnetâ? information and back story for a MotoGP buff, and it’s presented in such a way that doesn’t make it dull for those of us who think a four-stroke is a sex act.