Burn Out is a French actioner with the need for speed, and little else. It might not be deep or complex or original, but it’s well-constructed and has the goods where it counts.
Yann Gozlan‘s Burn Out, about a speed-demon motorcycle racer forced to moonlight as a drug courier, is nothing new. In fact, it’s everything old; a well-worn premise, a predictable plot, and relatively rote characters navigating the same kind of genre framework that we’ve seen time and time again. But that would be underselling the French film a bit. Perhaps fittingly for a film about racing super-bikes, Burn Out moves at a breakneck clip, and what it lacks in emotion, drama, and originality it makes up for in tension and, of course, a fair amount of speed.
The implausibly handsome François Civil plays Tony, a promising racer forced to put his skills to work as a mobster mule, and he makes a solid leading man. Most of the characters in Burn Out are defined by how they look, and Tony looks like the leather-clad leading man of a genre movie – and thus he is. There’s something to be said for pure superficiality in a movie like this; if the bikes are piloted by handsome dudes and travel very quickly, and frequently tilt remarkably close to the ground or narrowly avoid head-on collisions, then do we really need to know anything else?
Caring is overrated. I didn’t give much of a s**t about Tony’s plight, despite efforts to convince me otherwise, and I don’t think I enjoyed Burn Out any less for that. Genre film exists for a reason, and oftentimes that reason is the power of pure sensation; how something looks and feels, not what it’s about, or what it has to say. Burn Out looks slick, and it feels like clinging to a high-speed vehicle for dear life. Gozlan’s film might be predictable and stereotypical, but it’s never boring. You’d be surprised how much of a welcome surprise that can be.