Dialogue, plot fizzle in recycled “Torque”

The quote, “I live my life a quarter mile at a time,” is a phrase made famous by Vin Diesel in the movie “The Fast and the Furious.”

In the new biker picture, “Torque,” a two-wheel bad boy speaks the same line, to which his biker honey replies, “That is the dumbest thing I ever heard.” Actually, the borrowed slogan is the smartest thing you’ll hear in “Torque.”

The movie is an uninspiring attempt to ride the high-octane coattails of its four-wheeled forerunner.

Funded by the same producers, “Torque” carjacks the look, sound, even the opening credits of its predecessor. Directed by music video crossover Joseph Kahn, the movie seems like nothing more than a turbo-charged imitation. The audience is supposed to forgive the fact that this movie has a script written for tenth graders, poor attempts at comic relief and the worst acting since Kid Rock in “Biker Boyz.”

The overall plot is basic and makes little sense. Our hero, Cary Ford (Martin Henderson), returns home to reunite with his girlfriend, Shane (Monet Mazur). A motorcycle drug dealer named Henry James (Matt Schulze), the leader of the Hellions gang, is after Ford because he stole two of his bikes that had crystal meth in the gas tanks. But, that’s not all.

The FBI believes Ford is a drug dealer so they are chasing him, too. His troubles continue to mount when James leads a disgruntled gang-leader, Trey Wallace (Ice Cube), to believe that Ford killed Junior (Fredro Starr), Wallace’s brother. Knife fights, bike chases and wet T-shirt contests ensue.

Overall, the acting is far from impressive. Cube has fun playing a ruthless antagonist after a recent string of nice-guy parts. If only there were more of him and less of the leather-wearing mannequins that round out the cast.

“Torque” does have a couple of nicely staged action sequences, including a high-speed pursuit on top of a moving train.

There are some big, if not unintentional, laughs throughout this production. In one scene, a catfight on wheels between Shane and China (Jaime Pressly), a lip-pierced villain, is dwarfed by enormous Pepsi and Mountain Dew billboards, an example of product placement taken to the comical extreme.

There is also the basic crime-thriller scene in which the main character finds the piece of evidence that will clear his name. Ford hints of his alibi when he says, “No two bikes have the same chain-wear pattern!” This attempt will probably leave audiences feeling like they’re watching an episode of “Law and Order.”

In truth, this film has the same “chain-wear pattern” as “The Fast and the Furious” and countless other action pictures. Its strongest attribute is its speed and clichés. “Torque” is high on octane, but low on originality.

Grade: C

Contact Julian Thompsonat jay_e_Thompson@hotmail.com.