Big dreams fuel charming 'World's Fastest Indian'

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 2, 2006 - 5:46 PM

Anthony Hopkins stars in an inspiring true story about an old man and his old motorcycle.

Anthony Hopkins plays a 72-year-old New Zealander determined to break the speed record for Indian-brand motorcycles in "The World's Fastest Indian."

The inspiring true story "The World's Fastest Indian" should be mandatory viewing for anyone who has ever said, "I'm getting too old for this."

Anthony Hopkins stars in this charming account of a 72-year-old New Zealander determined to break the speed record for Indian-brand motorcyles. Pursuing one's dreams should not be limited to the young, he believed.

To say he's a big dreamer is an understatement. Burt Munro's goal is to take a 50-year-old motorcycle, which came off the assembly line with a top speed of 54 miles per hour, and push it over 200.

He isn't a rich former CEO looking for an expensive hobby. On the contrary, he has no money except a meager pension. The garage in which he works on his bike doubles as his home. He makes all of the parts he needs, fashioning them out of scrap gleaned from junk yards. His budget is so tight, he announces, that he often spells the name of his hometown, Invercargill, "with one 'l' to save the ink."

And to top it off, he has a heart condition that necessitates using nitroglycerine tablets. Before he starts a speed run, he takes two pills out of the bottle. He sticks one under his tongue to ward off a heart attack. He drops the other one into the gas tank to give the motorcycle an extra burst of power.

As played by Hopkins, Burt is one of those people who becomes an instant best friend. His enthusiasm is infectious. And he accepts everyone on their own terms. While staying in a cheap motel, he's befriended by a transvestite who, assuming that Burt is naive, finally announces that he can quit addressing him as "Ma'am." But Burt keeps doing it. If his acquaintance sees himself as a woman, that's the way he sees it, too.

The movie was written and directed by Roger Donaldson ("The Recruit"). Being from Down Under himself, he spends a bit too much time reminding us that America is not the only land of opportunity. But no one can blame Donaldson for being proud of Burt -- or of the movie about him.

**** out of four stars

The setup: A 72-year-old man with a 50-year-old motorcycle becomes determined to set a speed record.

What works: Anthony Hopkins as the determined, sky-is-the-limit protagonist.

Great line: Going 200 miles per hour on a machine held together with makeshift parts, he says: "You live more in five minutes than most people live in a lifetime."

Rating: PG-13; profanity and references to drugs and sex.

Where: Edina Theater.

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