A demolition derby starring some of the most expensive cars on Earth, “Redline” portrays a world so drenched in wealth it gives off a stench. The men think nothing of betting millions on meaningless races, the countless cantilevered babes belong to the blond-bauble genus, and the sense of overweening privilege might put even a Russian billionaire to shame. Mild $3.8 million opening weekend for this slick self-financed-and-distributed production from car-crazy real estate tycoon Daniel Sadek suggests speed-hungry viewers more readily connect with “The Fast and the Furious” and the NASCAR world than with the out-of-reach toys —mechanical and human —depicted here.
If anyone from the Green side of the world were to inadvertently catch “Redline,” the picture could easily be advanced as Exhibit A of conspicuous consumption and waste: Not only do all the cars here get about eight miles per gallon, but one amazing scene has rap gazillionaire Infamous (Eddie Griffin) getting so fed up with one of his smart-mouthed hos (yes, that’s what she is) that he lands his private jet on a highway in the middle of the desert just to dump her out, then takes off again.
Otherwise, the pic oozes the charm and personality of an industrial film as it displays a succession of speed contests between flashy cars from the producer’s own stable, some of which actually get banged up and wrecked. At the center of things more often than not is Natasha (bodacious soap thesp Nadia Bjorlin), who inherited her late father’s driving skills but has promised her mom she won’t race.
But circumstances naturally dictate otherwise, especially after she is compelled to take revenge on dissolute weirdo Michael (Angus Macfadyen), who lives like a Scottish sultan and engages in a winner-take-all $100 million wager on a desert race with Infamous and a perennially lucky Hollywood producer (Tim Matheson). Aiding her cause is Michael’s nephew Carlo (Nathan Phillips), a stone-hard Iraq War vet whose combat skills are so impressive, it’s a wonder he couldn’t win the war with them.
Stunt coordinator Andy Cheng (“Rush Hour”) makes a directorial debut in which the parts have been assembled with machine-drilled precision, and pic benefits from the lensing smarts of vet Bill Butler. But the only vaguely human, idiosyncratic touch is supplied by Macfadyen, who delivers a virtually Neroesque performance as a man so corroded by wealth that he is neurotically driven to destroy everything within his reach.