The World's Fastest Indian (Roger Donaldson). 127 minutes. Opens Friday (March 10). For venues and times, see Movies, page 107. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The World's Fastest Indian is a low-key charmer starring Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro, an eccentric Kiwi who, in his late 60s, took a 40-year-old motorcycle (the eponymous Indian) to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the apparently quixotic pursuit of the world land speed record for motorcycles.
There are some impressive cameos by the likes of Diane Ladd , Bruce Greenwood and Paul Rodriguez , but Hopkins carries the film from start to finish. Unfortunately, he's inclined to twinkle when he's a nice guy, and that leads to the oddity of a central character who has an obsession but no dark side. He's just a likeable chap who prefers to make his own pistons.
Director Roger Donaldson , whose prolific and eclectic filmography stretches from Smash Palace to Cocktail and Thirteen Days, has a keen eye for the desert, and the Bonneville scenes have a crackle that the early portions of the film could use more of.
Very early in his career, Donaldson made a documentary about Munro, though there's no evidence of it on the IMDB. I'm hoping it turns up as a DVD extra.