No matter what role Anthony Hopkins sticks his talented self into the movie will likely resonate from the energy and authenticity that he brings. Such as the case with the small, quirky and amusing The World’s Fastest Indian. Don't be fooled by the title, as it's definitely not the story of a long distance Native American but rather about an old man’s dream to ride his motorcycle extremely fast.
Based on the true story of New Zealand native Burt Munro (Hopkins) and his quest to break the speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the story takes several side adventures as Burt travels from Ivercargill to Utah. The film takes place during the late 1960’s, after Burt has spent a lifetime perfecting his classic 1920 Indian motorcycle (worth the price of admission just to hear Hopkins pronounce “motorcycle”) and his speed quest. Staring out at practically the bottom of the world, Burt sets off on a shoestring budget with money raised from his friends and neighbors.
It isn’t until he arrives in the US that his real adventures begin. Like a typical road movie he meets a series of characters from the surely taxi cab driver, to a Hollywood transvestite, to a El Salvadoran used car salesman (great bit part by Paul Rodriguez) but with a likeable Kiwi personality they take to him like Kiwis take to sheep. Of course he finds obstacles along the way, starting with the fact that everyone seems to thinks that he British and he snarls back that he’s not a bloody Pommie. His bike also gets crushed, dropped off a moving trailer, crashed and takes more abuse than one of Mike Tyson’s exes. But he and his bike survive to at least make it to Speed Week where he meets more obstacles and makes yet more friends.
Although the film has its eyes and ears on the road, the film’s heart lies in following one’s dreams. It maybe a cliché to say that someone may have wrinkled skin on the outside but their heart and soul remain a youthful 18 years old. It’s about never giving up. Writer/Director Roger Donaldson (Thirteen Days, The Bounty) keeps the film moving at a brisk pace. Whether it’s the obstacles that he faces or the one night stands he enjoys things juts keep moving. At times things may seem a little too convenient but nothing seems to contrived or out of place. After all this was the 60's man. And you’re talking about Sir Anthony Hopkins. Some people say “Speed Kills” but in this case “Speed Lives.”