Proof that obsession can be contagious comes with The World's Fastest Indian, an affectionate portrait of a real-life Kiwi record breaker that took director Roger Donaldson 30 years to bring to the screen. Its subject is Herbert J 'Burt' Munro, a plucky pensioner who repeatedly broke the world land-speed record in the 60s on his modified Indian Scout motorbike. As played by Anthony Hopkins, he emerges as a likeable eccentric whose refusal to see out his days quietly will strike a chord with geriatrics everywhere.
Anyone younger, though, will be rather nonplussed by this sluggish yarn, which takes an inordinately long time to transplant Burt from his native Invercargill on New Zealand's south coast to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the world-famous location of his petrolhead exploits. What we get in the interim is an extended road movie that sees Hopkins' old-timer battle bureaucratic red tape, accidental mishap and his own dodgy ticker in his quest to transport his rickety machine halfway across the world in an era when intercontinental travel was still in its infancy.
"AN UNABASHEDLY RETRO AFFAIR"
Punctuated by comical encounters with assorted misfits and a romantic sojourn with a lonely widow (Diane Ladd), the journey is eventful enough. But it's only after Burt reaches his destination that Donaldson's film finally gathers momentum and delivers the kind of adrenaline charge its title so tantalisingly promises. Still, Hopkins' relaxed and untypically jolly performance makes the wait worthwhile in an unabashedly retro affair that's less of a conventional biopic than a fully-fledged love letter.