Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Review: Streets Of Legend (2005)

Streets Of Legend
85 minutes
rated R

By Scott Mendelson

Streets of Legend is a rare breed of movie. It is special in ways that one rarely encounters. It is bad in so many ways it’s criminal. In fact, it IS criminal in one very obvious way. The press materials loudly trumpet that this very low budget tale of love and street racing was shot using hidden camera footage of actual street races. Yes, this epic tale consists of real footage of actual highly illegal street races, as stupid, insecure, or highly bored young males speed down (hopefully) deserted stretches of road at speeds topping 200 miles per hour. I say hopefully as that’s not always the case. I have a friend whose father’s best friend was killed by a collision with one of these idiots back in June, 2003. So to make this artistically vacant film, they in fact facilitated illegal street races putting you and I in greater peril. And the best part is, the film is so incomprehensibly shot and edited, that the footage looks completely fake. Putting aside my disdain for the featured sport, the question becomes, to paraphrase Rent, what’s the apropos way to review a movie, that’s also a crime?

The legality and morality of street racing aside, the film fails on every other conceivable level. The film is filled with first-time actors, and on the basis of this picture, they will still be ‘first time actors’ on their next film. The shot choices and editing resembles a poor freshman student film, with pointless shots of alleged symbolism. The film was shot on the very lowest quality digital video, so it looks like a snuff film shot on Betamax. The press materials boast that this is a 'character-driven' film, but each and every character is unlikable, paper-thin, and dumber than two boxes of rocks stuck together with silly putty. To wit, we have the lead character, Chato, a mean, possessive punk who yells at his mother, abuses his girlfriend, and cheats on said girlfriend with her best friend. Next we have Noza, the girl in contention. She loves Chato, but is furious when he gets caught cheating and gets sent back to jail for failing a drug test.

Derek is the main street racer in the cast, first seen getting upset after he gets a ticket for doing 140 on the highway. Derek’s best moment is his tearful lashing out at the unknown reckless driver who killed his mother. This speech comes after he nearly gets himself and Noza into a wreck because they were um… recklessly driving. The lovebirds first meet as she joins her friends to watch a street race, and they are immediately taken with each other. This might be romantic if, acting and writing aside, Noza didn’t look like she was 12 years old.

But trouble looms when Chato breaks out of the maximum-security prison. Does he break out using a complicated scheme involving full body tattoos of prison blueprints, deals made with the top mobster at the joint, years of architecture training, and a cunning scheme involving digging a tunnel in the old shed with the help of a guy who might be DB Cooper? Nope, but Prison Break's Michael Scofield will punch himself if he sees this film and realizes that all he had to do was kick a soccer ball into the forest, run after it and hop a small fence to glorious freedom. The end involves Chato returning to reclaim Noza, with Derek fighting for his new girlfriend. It is here that the film crosses the line from insulting and ridiculous to morally foul and offensive. It is not the actions per se, but one character’s reactions to said events that cause the film to stop being funny in its incompetence and leave a sour, bitter taste with its alleged worldview.

If it needs to be further said, this film is truly ghastly. It has no real production values, no acting skill, nothing worth looking at on the screen. It also has the added component of being achieved through wanton criminality, and having a vile and contemptuous worldview toward the underclass and toward women in particular. That this film was shown at Sundance is a mockery of quality underground film making. That it’s getting a theatrical release is a sick joke. This film is a blight on the art of film making and should be avoided at all costs.

Grade: F

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