Speed is his passion. Danger is his life
This article was originally published in the February 2016 issue of Street Machine.
Street racing is the action backdrop for dozens of flicks – Born To Run is one more following the proven good guy/bad guy/hot chick formula.
Nicky Donatello (Grieco, of 21 Jump Street and Booker fame) is king of the street in his 428 Mustang fastback, but he’s become a pawn in the dealings of local crime boss Phil (Cortese) and his cronies – the nerdy Raymond (Stait) and sleazy Pitts (Peterson). The local strip has become big business for kingpin Phil’s gambling interests, and Nicky misses the old camaraderie of competition.
When Nicky’s gambler brother Richie (Acovone) gets in too deep, he banks on his younger sibling’s skills behind the wheel as a quick fix to his woes.
Meanwhile, Phil recruits a string of professionals to challenge Nicky, but with mounting losses, the bad guys turn to dirty tricks, culminating in the death of Nicky’s friend, Art (Cummins).
Disgruntled, Nicky pulls the pin on racing and starts fooling around with Phil’s ex-squeeze, Sally (Lether). She attempts to neutralise the brewing drama but the fight turns personal when Nicky rats out Phil to the FBI, hoping to shut him down permanently.
The final race – between Nicky and yet another gun-for-hire – ends with our hero claiming the strip in a blaze of glory. He walks away with his head held high, happy to let the dust settle on those he leaves behind.
Born To Run starts with promise but soon becomes a bit of a train wreck. The same race footage is re-run ‘night after night’ and the acting other than Grieco’s is amateur. Whoever cast the cars had a good eye, however, and the script’s technical details are perfect. A few dollars more could have elevated it from B-grade TV-movie fare to silver-screen blockbuster and made this a legendary flick for car buffs.
Avid gearheads will find value in Born To Run simply because the racing and cars are well shot, but otherwise it’s best saved for a rainy day when you want mindless mush to ease a hangover. As a first-time viewer, I found myself gutted that with all these elements – a great lead actor, a promising racing storyline and accurate use of cool cars – we still ended up with a disjointed and messy film at the finish line.
- 1970 Ford Mustang
- 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle
- 1963 Dodge Polara
- 1965 Chevrolet Corvette
- 1975 Chevrolet Malibu
- 1932 Ford coupe
- 1971 Dodge Demon
- 1976 Ford F-Series
- 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL
- 1970 Plymouth Duster
- Shelby Cobra
- 1950 Oldsmobile 88
- Richard Grieco
- Jay Acovone
- Shelli Lether
- Joseph Cortese
- Christian Campbell
- Alan Peterson
- Martin Cummins
- Brent Stait
Cool Flick Fact:
Matthew McConaughey’s film Born To Run isn’t a remake – it’s about, er, ultramarathons
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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