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Paramount Studios presents
RPM (1997)

"Some people say I have a problem. I see a beautiful, vintage car and I have tosteal it."
- Luke (David Arquette)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: September 26, 2000

Stars: David Arquette, Emanuelle Seigner, Famke Janssen
Other Stars: John Bluthal, Jerry Hall
Director: Ian Sharpe

MPAA Rating: R for sexuality and language.
Run Time: 01h:31m:00s
Release Date: September 19, 2000
UPC: 097368397842
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B D+C+B+ C

DVD Review

When I received RPM, I was in the midst of racing season. My newly decked out Honda Civic Type-R was ready for a heated battle in one of Europe's many, gorgeous race courses. I had retooled the engine and just about every other aspect of my car; I was primed to take the gold trophy. Of course, this was all in a video game, Sega GT for the Dreamcast to be specific. So, I was geared up for some racing action, which RPM promised in spades. Soon after throttling up the disc, though, I was almost yearning for a Cannonball Run: Special Edition with Burt Reynolds' commentary. I know, I know...slap some sense into me.

RPM is about Luke (David Arquette), an expert car thief obsessed with the possession of exotic automobiles. His annoying and eccentric habit of stealing everything is tolerated by the company he works for since he's a mechanical genius. Luke accepts the offer from a wealthy business man to go to Europe and help steal a special prototype car, and he does this because he's one step away from being arrested. He discovers he'll have to work with his arch-rival, Claudia (Famke Janssen), in order to obtain the car. The vehicle they're after is the "RPM," a car that runs on a new, efficient engine that hardly ever needs to be refueled. In the process, both Luke and Claudia wind up stealing every exotic car they can find, getting into deeper trouble.

The basic set up for RPM is solid, but the film itself isn't very exciting at all. Though it promises loads of high speed action, it really doesn't deliver. Instead, it's an awkward comedy with David Arquette presented as the Funniest Guy on Earth. He regularly narrates the film in a very annoying, smart-assed, smug way; constantly making weak jokes. Everything he does is presented as if it's utterly hilarious, whether it's stealing a car or hitting on women in his pathetic style. So, where's the auto action? Well, there is some, but it's not what you might expect.

There's actually very little in the way of car stunts or chase sequences, and when there are, they're pretty tepid. For example, in one scene Claudia steals two cars by driving one and leaning out the window hanging on to the other car. Pretty cool idea, except the harness holding the cars together is plainly visible, and on top of that, she winds up letting go after a few minutes. So much for that stunt. Chase sequences are quite uneventful and usually pretty slow. This isn't a James Bond style film, it's more like a movie where they paid to rent all these exotic cars, but couldn't afford to actually DO anything with them.

There's an extremely unfunny subplot involving the local authorities trying to expose this whole scheme. It basically amounts to making fun of French police because they speak English with French accents. (Foreigners are funny!!) None of the cast really stands out other than Famke Janssen. Most of you should remember her as Xenia Onatopp in the Bond film Goldeneye, and if you want to see her, great cars, and great action all together, go watch THAT movie instead. Her enthusiasm here is obvious, but the film surrounding her is so weak that her wild persona is wasted. In fact, just about everything here is wasted. This isn't an action film so much as a weird, low-budget comedy about kooky car thieves.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in full-frame, image quality is acceptable, but flawed overall. There is a heavy amount of pixelization and compression artifacts in certain scenes, influenced by the rather rough quality of the source print. When there are no digital flaws, the image is still grainy and flat. Colors are slightly washed out, and very little in the way of stylish cinematography is used. Some moments do overcome these problems and look very good, but it's not constant. English and Spanish subtitles are presented in plain white. They look good and translate dialogue very well.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 2.0 Surround audio is not bad and accurately embraces the action in the film. Mostly front channel oriented, the dialogue is well balanced with the rest of the sound effects. Directionality isn't used very much, but there is a wide soundstage. Surrounds are generously used for a variety of ambient effects and the LFE channel puts out some for throaty engine roars.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Trivia Game
Extras Review: I'm not sure what could have been added to this film (nothing really), but as it is there's a trailer, some bios, and a trivia game. Like similar games, the trivia is simply some questions about the movie and the actors; correct answers get a good video sequence, wrong answers get a bad video sequence. The menu system is themed to the interior of a car rather nicely, but it's a bit slow. More chapter stops are needed as well.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

RPM is a vastly disappointing film that delivers nothing but flat jokes and boring, juvenile comedy. The action portion of the film is minimal and too little, too late. It might make a decent rental, but it could easily be skipped for better, similar films like Repo Man, or Gone in 60 Seconds (the original, NOT the recent remake).


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