In the TV trailer for the new Indy-car actioner Driven, which reteams Cliffhanger duo Sylvester Stallone and Renny Harlin, Sly’s sagging, slack-jawed mug is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we get a bunch of barely legal nubiles groping each other to a rap-metal soundtrack, various CGI-obvious ka-booms, and one really cheesy tag line: “Welcome to the human race.” Sure, anyone involved with Tango & Cash deserves a lifelong curse—Teri Hatcher got Howie Long as a straight man, Kurt Russell got Chris Robinson as a son-in-law, Jack Palance got to make Cops and Robbersons—but this lack of respect for Stallone’s star power is still surprising. Do the TRL kids, at whom Driven is obviously targeted, really not know who Rocky Balboa is? Or maybe they do, and that’s the problem. No matter: The Italian Stallion (albeit, at 54 years old, looking more like an Italian sausage) not only weighs down most of the movie but also co-produced it and wrote its screenplay. So maybe the bombastically vain Stallone willingly severed his postproduction ties to this flat-tire film about washed-up racer Joe “Hummer” Tanto, who is brought back by his mentor (Burt Reynolds) to play Yoda to a promising, rebellious young driver. It’s too bad that Harlin can’t tell a cohesive story to save his life—this isn’t Cutthroat Island muddled, but it’s close—because the Finnish director is actually quite inventive at developing full-throttle action scenes. The racing sequences, including an impromptu speed test through the crowded streets of Chicago, play like a virtual-reality ride at Kings Dominion: With big block-rockin’ beats mixing with the booming heartbeats of the men behind the wheel, Harlin, using both real racing footage and an arsenal of clever computer tricks, zips his camera every which way and provides the audience with an authentic adrenaline rush. But once the engines are cut, Driven becomes intolerable—those TRL punks in the audience were laughing at every serious Sly grunt—and the supporting cast is left with not one clever quip. Gina Gershon, as Tanto’s bitter ex-wife, unwisely dredges up her all-nails sex-kitten character from Showgirls, and model-turned-model-trying-desperately-to-act Estella Warren, who completes the ho-hum love triangle between our cardboard young hero (Kip Pardue) and our nonthreatening young villain (Til Schweiger), delivers her dialogue as if she were selling cosmetics. My personal fave of the myriad bad lines comes at the finale, when an announcer informs, “The Hummer has taught us all something today in Detroit!” Yeah, like maybe Tango & Cash wasn’t such a bad movie after all. —Sean Daly

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