Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of major releases set against a motocross backdrop. So when one comes by, you’re kind of compelled to check it out, right? That’s what put me in a seat for “Bennett’s War,” anyway.
That, and I’m a sucker for schmaltzy inspirational stories. The kind after which, you walk back to your car (or Lime scooter) thinking, “OK, maybe life isn’t so bad. Maybe we can overcome challenges and have a positive impact on those around us without dropping a ton of F-bombs, megatons of real bombs, or going 120 MPH while defying the laws of physics.”
So, uhhmm, about that last one. Let’s bookmark that for now.
Once-spectacular MX rider Marshall Bennett (Michael Roark) heeded the call to serve his country — cue opening footage of him and a comrade as Army Ranger motorcyclists sporting night goggles as they barrel across the barren Afghan landscape — but while escaping an ambush, Bennett inadvertently crosses a tripwire, the consequence of which sends them both home with disabling injuries.
Relegated to a job maintaining the bikes he used to command, he’s again called to action when the family farm faces financial calamity. Against the advice of both his physical therapist and his wife, who fear another trauma might make his war injury permanent, he sets out to go pro.
Of course we all know where this is going, just as we did in 1979’s “Breaking Away,” which “Bennett’s War” occasionally channels. But here, as well as in the Oscar-winner 40 years before, it’s not about the inevitable victory. It’s all about the ride. Metaphorically and actually.
The action is fast-paced and provides necessary cover for the hackneyed plot and cliché dialogue. The race footage is especially impressive with well-placed slow-motion shots amplifying epic MX jumps and insane whips (I have no idea what I’m talking about here, suffice to say it was cool to watch).
“Bennett’s War” is the first of seven films from Forrest Lucas, a name familiar to anyone who’s spent time in the stands of the Brainerd International Raceway. All promise to, as this one does, demonstrate that value of grit and family support.
Allison Paige, Trace Adkins, and Tony Panterra co-star.
Rating: 3 Honks