Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Fast Company

Directed by David Cronenberg and screenplay by Cronenberg, Phil Savath, and Courtney Smith from a story by Alan Treen, Fast Company is about a drag racer who deals with his crooked manager who tries to undermine his racing career as well as the racer’s protégé. The film has Cronenberg straying away from the horror film genre in order to make a simple B-movie based on drag racing and fast cars. Starring William Smith, John Saxon, Claudia Jennings, and Nicholas Campbell. Fast Company is a fun and enjoyable film from David Cronenberg.

The film is a simple tale about a drag-race car legend who is going through tough times while helping his young protégé pay his dues as he’s driving the funny car. Yet, when his manager decides to undermine things for his driver and his protégé where it causes tension. The driver then learns about what his manager is really doing as he also have to deal with a racing rival and his goons prompting the driver, his protégé, and their team to do something. It’s a film that essentially has a premise where there’s not a lot that goes on in its screenplay where it doesn’t take itself seriously except when it comes to business and racing politics. Even as the driver known as Lonnie “Lucky Man” Johnson (William Smith) is aware that his career is winding down but finds himself having to do things at the behest of his manager Phil Adamson (John Saxon) that he doesn’t like. While it is partially a racing drama of sorts, it’s mostly presented in a comedic B-movie fashion where there’s women involved and all sorts of crazy things.

David Cronenberg’s direction is quite straightforward in the way he presents the drag racing world where it is fast and furious on the race track as it’s about winning and losing. Yet, he also takes his time to explore what goes on behind the scenes where Adamson’s character decides to wreck things and go after Johnson’s rival Gary “The Blacksmith” Black (Cedric Smith) who has some respect for Johnson while waiting to see what kind of potential Johnson’s protégé Billy “The Kid” Brocker (Nicholas Campbell) has. Much of the direction features some simple yet engaging shots including some beautiful scenery of the locations in the American Northwest/Canadian Southwest. While there are a few moments involving fire and such that is part of Cronenberg’s visual trademark. It’s mostly restrained in favor of humor as well as some campy nudity that occurs. Overall, Cronenberg crafts a fine although typical kind of drag-race B-movie that does have some substance.

Cinematographer Mark Irwin does excellent work with the film‘s very colorful cinematography to not just capture the landscape of the locations but also some scenes at night to play out the tense atmosphere of the film. Editor Ronald Sanders does nice work with the editing to create some rhythmic cuts for the races as well as for some of the film‘s humorous moments. Art director Carol Spier does terrific work with the look of Johnson‘s trailer as well as the race tracks that take place in the film.

Costume designer Delphine White does some good work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual to play with the look of the late 1970s. Sound recorder Bryan Day does superb work with the sound to play out the sounds of the engines and tires in the drag races. The film’s music by Fred Mollin is quite decent as it is mostly a mixture of late 70s mainstream rock and country to play out the energy of the film’s racing and comedy scenes

The casting by Gail Carr is brilliant as it features some notable appearances from Cheri Hilsabeck and Sonya Ratke as a couple of hitchhikers Billy picks up, Chuck Chandler as the Edmonton track announcer, David Graham as Black’s more friendlier mechanic Stoner, George Buza as Black’s more ruthless mechanic Meatball, and Robert Haley as Johnson’s funny mechanic PJ. Judy Foster is pretty good as Johnson’s girlfriend Candy who deals with his road trip as well as the frustrations he’s feeling over Adamson. Don Francks is terrific as Johnson’s chief mechanic Elder who is the conscience of the film as he helps guide Johnson and Billy while knowing that Adamson isn’t doing something good. Cedric Smith is excellent as Johnson’s rival Gary “The Blacksmith” Black who has a lot of respect for Lonnie but becomes frustrated by the fact that he’s being challenged while swayed into doing business by Adamson.

Nicholas Campbell is superb as Billy “The Kid” Brocker as Johnson’s protégé who is eager to make a name for himself as he deals with Adamson’s politics while trying to help Johnson take back some control. Claudia Jennings is wonderful as Sammy as a woman who works for Adamson as she becomes suspicious of his dealings where she helps Johnson and Brocker to deal with Adamson. John Saxon is amazing as the very slimy Phil Adamson as a man who is more concerned with profit than winning as he wants forces Johnson to do things to help money with no concern for anyone’s well-being. Finally, there’s William Smith in a fantastic performance as Lonnie “Lucky Man” Johnson as a revered racer who deals with politics and his manager’s crooked ways as he tries to do what is right for his team and for the world of drag racing.

Fast Company is a terrific and entertaining film from David Cronenberg. While it is definitely a very weird film in terms of what is expected from Cronenberg as it doesn’t feature a lot of horror or any heavy drama. It is still some fine B-movie fare that doesn’t take itself seriously while giving its audience a lot of fun drag races and some nudity. In the end, Fast Company is a pretty good film from David Cronenberg.

David Cronenberg Films: Stereo - Crime of the Future - Shivers - Rabid - The Brood - Scanners - Videodrome - The Dead Zone - The Fly (1986 film) - Dead Ringers - Naked Lunch - M Butterfly - Crash - eXistenZ - Spider - A History of Violence - Eastern Promises - A Dangerous Method - Cosmopolis - Maps to the Stars - Crimes of the Future (2022 film)

The Auteurs #26: David Cronenberg: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2013


TheVern said...

I never knew this was a Cronenberg feature, but it looks like one I need to check out. Nice Review.

thevoid99 said...

Thanks. It's an extremely different film from Cronenberg yet if you life fast cars and naked ladies. What else do you want?