Last week I sat down and watched Fastest, the fourth Moto GP documentary directed by Mark Neale. I thoroughly enjoyed the previous 3 entries in the series, so my expectation was that with the benefit of time and experience, Mark Neale would hit this one out of the park. Alas that was not the case.
The previous films all featured a timeline that jumped around a bit. In Fastest however, the timeline jumped around so much that it made the movie seem disjointed. One moment it’s covering 2004, another moment it’s in 2008, in yet another vignette it’s back in 2006, and finally back to 2010, which ostensibly was the focus. A loyal Moto GP fan could follow it, but if you didn’t follow Moto GP closely for the last 5 years you could find yourself getting lost. On the other hand, maybe the director was aiming to emulate Memento, but didn’t succeed.
The other major problem is bias. In Fastest, Jorge Lorenzo is Valentino’s chief rival, and Mark Neale features several interviews with Jorge and dedicates a bit of film to Jorge’s ascendance to challenge Rossi. While it is not equal, the coverage of Lorenzo is fair. However, the man who is given brutally short shrift is Casey Stoner. Stoner was the first man to soundly beat Valentino and has won more races than anyone in the 800 cc era. Stoner’s 2007 championship was treated as little more than a footnote in the narrative and as such is almost disrespectful of Casey’s accomplishments.
It is clear Mark Neale is a dedicated Valentino Rossi fan, as are millions around the world. But by turning his nose up at what Stoner has done, it really hurts the documentary. Stoner is not the most cuddly and friendly with the media, and has an inordinate share of haters and detractors. But in that, there was an opportunity to shine a light on the misunderstood Australian. Instead you’re left wondering if maybe Mark Neale is one of those insufferable haters who thinks Stoner only wins because of the bike, or the tires, or traction control…
All that said, if you’re fan of Moto GP, you can’t not buy this movie. You’re not going to get better interviews or camera work anywhere else, and even with its flaws, Fastest is still worth it. It is disappointing because the movie could be so much better, but such is life. The racing in Moto GP could be better these days, but we watch anyway.
The esteemed Jim McDermott of Superbikeplanet feels much the same way, although he has a few harsher criticisms of the flick.