When you think of Norway many things come to mind, Vikings, polar bears, maybe even flocks of parrots pinning for the fjords, but you really don’t think of car race movies. Well, you can now thanks to Børning, a new film about road racing and fatherhood.
The film starts off with a dedication to the late Hal Needham, the famed stuntman turned director who gave us Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run among other films, that won points with me right away. Then it takes off with our hero Roy getting into a road race with his pregnant girlfriend in the car. Thanks to the intervention of a semi and a police speed trap he ends up flipping his car. Everyone is ok, but he is taken off to jail and his girlfriend deserts him.
The story picks up many years later, Roy owns an auto parts store and is still obsessed with racing. On the eve of a big race his ex drops their daughter off with him unexpectedly. He of course wants no part of this and does his best to ignore the poor girl despite her best efforts to get his attention. Finally she resorts to sabotaging his car.
This sets up the film’s main plot, an illegal road race from one end of Norway to the other between Roy his rival TT and a host of other oddball characters. Of course Roy still has his daughter with him for the race and along the way they begin to bond and Roy learns a thing or too about being a father, and about growing up in general.
If you’re thinking that this is The Cannonball Run with subtitle’s you’re not far off. This is much more in the style of Needham’s 1980’s classics than more modern gearhead fare such as The Transporter or the Fast and Furious franchise. The one big difference being that while Burt Reynolds was always a likeable leading man in Needham’s films, Roy starts the film of as an unlikable jerk. The cops trying to bust the racers are more likeable than he is. And while this is necessary to set up the story it risks losing the viewer at the start. Thankfully the script keeps us interested despite the uncharismatic lead and we do care what happens between Roy and Nina and hope he will redeem himself. And over the course of the film he does leading to an ending that’s satisfying if not entirely unexpected.
But of course, the main attraction here are the cars, and the film does not let the viewer down there either. There’s all manner of fast cars on display from Roy’s vintage Mustang to TT’s Japanese tuner and everything in between. And there’s some great stunt work, which seems to have been done for real, no CGI involved. A leap off a cliff onto the back of a moving flatbed truck is a particular highlight.
This is the directorial debut for Hallvard Braein, probably best known as the cinematographer on Troll Hunter and he handles it well. He has a firm grasp on both the action sequences and the human elements of the film and brings the together as a satisfying whole, not making the drama seem grafted onto the action elements.
Børning is an action comedy with a heart, a fun film that doesn’t let it’s serious side bring down the fun or let the vehicular mayhem overwhelm the film’s human side. An enjoyable film from a director we’ll be hearing more of.