The World's Fastest Indian

(2005) ** 1/2 Pg-13
127 min. Magnolia Pictures. Director: Roger Donaldson. Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lawford, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Rodriguez, Diane Ladd.
A true-sports movie starring 67-year-old Anthony Hopkins as the athlete? That's exactly what you get from The World's Fastest Indian, Roger Donaldson's ode to Kiwi motorcyclist Burt Munro. In 1967, Munro left his small town of Invercargill and set off to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah for "Speed Week." The plan: set a new land-speed record with his 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle. When Munro touches down in Hollywood, he fends off thieves and prostitutes, befriends a transvestite hotel manager, and then it's road-trip time. The first half of the film is often awful, with Hopkins' cutesy-codger shtick feeding into the Straight Story-esque road trip, with a moral at every rest stop. But the second, more engaging half of the film is about an enthusiast who must beat the odds just to get his chance to compete, much less excel. It should come as no surprise that Munro dazzles his new friends with his know-how, skill, and grit. The real suspense surrounds whether or not Munro will survive his efforts. Hopkins is in every scene of this humble outing, and it's mostly for his diehard fans and cycling buffs.
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