Every now and then, every so often, you just have to watch a film that makes you smile and makes you happy. “The World’s Fastest Indian” is the surefire antidote for depression or cynicism. Anderson’s film, in the spirit of coming of age stories like “Harry and Tonto” and “The Straight Story”, evolves from a story of friendship, then of a small town, then of an old man refusing to lay down and die, to a road flick, and then to an underdog sports film. And it’s just such a treat to watch everything unfold with Burt Munro played with such genuine charm by Hopkins.
Anthony Hopkins portrays real life motorcycle buff Burt Munro who modified an almost antique Indian motorcycle and proceeded in breaking many land speed records in his old age. Burt Munro, as portrayed here, is an aging eccentric man from New Zealand who dreams of going to the Bonneville speedway and competing. One day, after building his bike to his own satisfaction, he goes off to Salt Lake City. “Indian” can best be described as a road film where Burt comes across an assortment of characters from a transvestite (Chris Williams), to a disgruntled used car salesman (Paul Rodriguez), to a kind sports star (Christopher Lawford), and Anderson’s writing is so witty and welcoming that it actually breaks out of the conventions of the sub-genre and becomes so much better as a study of the human condition and the kindness we’re capable of.
Anderson relies on a healthy consistent formula of engaging characters, wonderful direction, and witty dialogue that keeps the audience not only guessing, but anticipating what will happen next, and much of this is taken up by the incomparable talents of Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins as Burt is such an entertaining character, and you can’t help but root for him in spite of the odds that are basically against him. He’s elderly, naïve, and most times helpless, but he’s one hell of a courageous and tough man who won’t back down when he’s turned away. Anderson’s direction is gorgeous from the comfortable confines of New Zealand, to the sterile neon glows of the city, right down to the vast and glowing brilliance of Salt Lake City where Munro proves himself once and for all. “The World’s Fastest Indian” is a sweet, heartbreaking, road trip film that has to be seen for Hopkin’s entertaining performance, great cast, and the exciting and simplistic plot.