Sunday, April 18, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #9, Redline

About a year ago, I happened to have a couple of hours to kill on my own and, looking for something that would require little to no thought, I decided to go see Fast and Furious. I had seen the first movie in that series and knew what to expect. After seeing the newer one, I remarked to someone that it was essentially "car porn." There were extensive scenes of racing as the camera lovingly hugged the curves of the cars, interspersed with short scenes of mediocre acting. I enjoyed myself because that's pretty much what I was seeking. If you're looking for porn and you get porn, you're going to like the porn. Unless you wind up finding some sick fetish film. Enter Daniel Sadek and Redline.

Meet Daniel Sadek and put yourself in his shoes for a second. Sadek was born in Lebanon and came to California, where his acute business sense helped him make money quickly, initially by buying some 7-11 stores. As the housing market boomed, he decided to start a company that took advantage of the consumer hunger for real estate by selling subprime mortgages. Sadek got rich. Millions and millions of dollars rich. He loved cars and used his money to start a large collection of exotic cars (e.g., the $1.1 million Ferrari Enzo that Eddie Griffin famously crashed when doing promotional work for Redline). Sadek became famous for gambling huge amounts at Vegas casinos and he parlayed his money into dating a ridiculously hot soap opera star. He was on top of the world.

So what do you do when you're on top of the world? You assume that everyone wants to be you. Why not? You have everything! So Sadek decided to finance a movie that would have everything that he liked, because if everyone wanted to be him than they would like that stuff, too. Fast, exotic cars. Karate. Loud rap music. Sexy shots of hot women. Millionaires throwing around money like its water, gambling on cars and playing poker with the likes of David Williams and Gus Hansen. Name-checking himself by having a wealthy character talking to him on the phone near the end. Shoot, we can even add some gratuitous violence against women because, hey, we're a man's man, right? And our hot girlfriend, regardless of any talent, can take the leading role. Put this all together and you have Redline, the fetish video of car porn. Very short scenes of a miserable script and really, really awful acting (I did say that Eddie Griffin was in it) that are meaningless next to the orgy of everything a young, obscenely rich man with no reason to control his impulses would like. You can watch this whole scene, but I want you to specifically watch from the 2:21 mark to the end:

I mean, that's horrible. And, even with Sadek's apparently enormous ego, people saw right through it. Sadek raised $26 million for the film and it made $6.8 million domestically, falling out of the theaters quickly. Things went south from there. As the housing market collapsed, the government cracked down on subprime lenders like Sadek. He lost everything. He's broke; he's under investigation from the government; he has ruined people's lives with his predatory lending and, as such, is vilified by numerous consumer groups; he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Vegas casinos where he borrowed money. Maybe his downfall didn't start with Redline, but the movie is people's exhibit number one in the effort to prove that the kind of lifestyle Sadek was leading is bound to lead to ruin.

I'm going to have to create new levels of bad as I watch each of these movies on the list of Rotten Tomatoes' worst 100 films of the last decade. I had ranked The Master of Disguise (#18) as the worst movie I had ever seen, but it might be better to call it the least entertaining. Battlefield Earth (#27) is probably the worst-made. Redline inhabits a whole new level of bad. It's a movie that truly never should have been made.

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