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  • A movie review of Silver Dream Racer starring David Essex, 1980 5 1

Author Topic: A movie review of Silver Dream Racer starring David Essex, 1980  (Read 3443 times)

  • *****
November 27, 2014, 11:08:35 AM
By Justin Matley

The UK's David Essex stars with Beau Bridges and Christina Raines in this 1980 film directed by David Wickes. As one movie poster puts it, Silver Dream Racer is, "A story of love, obsession, and the ruthless spirit of competition." Quite right, all those elements are there, which could have made for a great film. But, to be perfectly honest, the description should have mentioned the two rather long and useless music montages, some occasional soap opera qualities, and some unrealistic dialogue so viewers had a clear idea how they'd be spending the next 101 minutes. What the description does elude to—in not mentioning motorcycle racing specifically—is that there isn't a lot of if, racing that is. Well, not as much as one would like or expect from a film titled, Silver Dream Racer.

Silver Dream Racer opens with a series of dirt bike riding scenes as a pair of riders chase each other around with slow motion, period-quality jumps, wheelies and hill climbs that eventually lead to the death of one rider, the brother of Nick Freeman played by David Essex. Freeman, a struggling motorbike racer with all the skill but little backing and a worn out bike, inherits his brother's secret prototype racer, the Silver Dream. This bespoke motorbike incorporates carbon fiber technology into the frame with, as described in the movie, engineering advancements that make the garage-built bike an evolutionary marvel motorcycle design.

Without giving too much away of the film's "fantastic" plot, Bruce McBride played by Beau Bridges acts as the protagonist, an overly cocky, wild-mannered racer who's taking the racing circuit by storm and has everything Freeman doesn't to include sponsorship, a support crew and a supportive trophy girl at his side, Julie Prince played by Christina Raines. Watching the film you might realize, as I did, that Prince, with the flip of a switch, transitions from being very affectionate toward McBride to teaming up with Freeman. She likes his bike, thinks he has potential on the track, and suddenly wants Freeman to knock McBride off his pedestal. EVENTUALLY we find out why that is, and I won't give it away here, but the scenario plays a bit backwards as Prince and McBride have a falling out only after she begins helping Freeman.

Now, cue the music montages as Freeman and Prince fall in love, progress through their relationship, and grow together as a couple while visiting one potential sponsor after the other. Where lack of money usually causes relationships to fail, in this film it brings the couple closer together. Now there's a dream!

On and on Freeman, always with Prince at his side, struggles to get funding to support his race attempt at the world-famous Silverstone championship.  And in all this the film misses the boat (or the bike) on what could have been a better motorcycle movie. Viewers are forced to sit through excessive dialogue, useless love drama and the montages, simply to FINALLY make it to the track on race day.

In my opinion, Silver Dream Racer's director could have cut a lot of that nonsense out and spent more time and money on getting better race footage, perhaps some country road bike testing, showcasing development of the bike and Freeman's skills, and certainly focusing on the rivalry between Freeman and McBride. The film steers off course to follow the relationship of Freeman and Prince instead of keeping on track with Freeman's desire to ride and escalating competition with McBride.

Silver Dream Racer does have some good race action (for the 80's), a few laughs whether well-placed into the script or not, and some realistic acting on the part of Essex. There are moments when Freeman is frustrated, standing up to McBride or sharing his dislike for McBride's riding style and tactics, that seem fairly genuine. Beau Bridges adds some quality to the film as well by acting fluidly and putting an honest effort into his character. He's a bit over the top at times, but perhaps Bridges was merely taking orders.

About halfway through the film, everything becomes quite predictable and though I won't share how Freeman fairs at the end, you can likely guess the outcome. I will say, however, that the director takes a shortcut "freeze frame" approach to the ending, cutting it short, instead of allowing us to enjoy seeing a final interaction between Freeman and McBride, or how his race at Silverstone affects Freeman's life. The film is too long through the middle and too short at the end.

As a motorcycle enthusiast, watch and enjoy the film as best you can, taking note of some fun race action with a POV view of the race track with a trail of motorcycle racers sweeping through the turns. And either fast-forward through the montage lovebird moments or let them play out while you rebuild your carburetor on the coffee table.

Learn more about the 1980 motorcycle movie Silver Dream Racer on IMDb here:

*Animated GIF images below are large files. Click once and wait a bit for it to expand and play.

« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 01:26:20 PM by MotoATAK-Admin »
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