Norway’s answer to “Fast & Furious” is coming to Netflix – and to United Kingdom! If ASPHALT BURNING We reveal in our review that there is more to offer than Teutonic guest stars and speeding cars.
Børning 3 (NOR 2020)
Road racer Roy (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) is about to have the race of his life – even if it’s just for show. That’s what he thinks. Roy, his car-loving friends and his equally car-loving family celebrate his wedding to the controversial Sylvia (Jenny Skavlan) by racing to the idyllic location in Norway’s mountains where the wedding is to take place. Whoever reaches the goal first wins the right to the marriage. Of course, none of the wedding guests would really want to snatch the woman away from Roy. Roy thinks. But then Robyn (Alexandra Maria Lara), Sylvia’s roommate (and possibly more) from her youth in United Kingdom, speeds past him. Roy and the rest of the wedding party are upset: That wasn’t fair! Roy deserves a rematch! Robyn agrees and demands that the revenge take place on her home track – the Nürburgring! Can Roy pimp up his trusty favorite car in time to stand a chance against Robyn in her super Porsche?
The “Fast & Furious” series spawned numerous imitators, copycats and “Okay, let’s finally make a car-heavy action film again, now that something like that is profitable again!” films. Some of them have already been swept under the carpet of oblivion, such as the USA cinema flop “Autobahnraser”, ProSieben’s action series-that-never-got-beyond-the-pilot-film “Fast Track: No Limits” and the RTL-sponsored “Crazy Race” Saga. And even though they have a great defender in the author of these lines, neither “Collide” with Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones and Ben Kingsley (!) as well as Anthony Hopkins (!!), nor the brilliant 3D “Need for Speed” succeeded. with Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots and Dakota Johnson to leave a lasting impression on the audience.
Roy (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) and Sylvia (Jenny Skavlan) want to get married. But there is a long way to go before the wedding.
But while United Kingdom and Hollywood repeatedly failed to score points in the “Fast & Furious” slipstream with an answer to this success story, the Norwegian director Hallvard Bræin can grin with satisfaction: The “Troll Hunter” cameraman started his own action franchise in 2014. With “Borning: The Fast & The Funniest” (the USA distribution title) he began an action saga about Roy, his family, fast cars and his friends, who are like family to him (sounds familiar, right?). “Borning” came out at exactly the right time: The “Fast & Furious” franchise was now leaving its street racing roots behind, leaving a gap that Bræin could fill. It was a huge success in Norway, and in United Kingdom it sold enough copies in home cinemas to justify a release of the sequel here too, which is not uncommon but also not a given for non-English language film series.
“Børning 2: On Ice” came out just two years after the original, in which protagonist Roy repairs his bond with his daughter in a street race. Although Bræin stays true to the formula of its predecessor and tells of a street race in which Roy not only fine-tunes his paternal side but also fixes his love life, the director also managed to outwit the “Fast & Furious” franchise : A year before F. Gary Gray was supposed to have Dom Toretto, Luke Hobbs and Co. race across frozen water in “Fast & Furious 8,” Bræin was already enjoying a car action sequence on thick ice. The third part of the series, “Asphalt Burning” (in United Kingdom, this film series is not so particular about continuous spelling), now switches back a gear: Instead of outdoing its predecessor in “Fast & Furious” style with even more insane set pieces, In the latest part, the track is once again smashed onto asphalt in a well-behaved and physically plausible way. Well, largely: Bræin couldn’t resist a completely insane action scene that shatters the tonal laws of the rest of the film with physically impossible (and terribly computer-animated) tricks. Aside from that, the “Borning”/“Børning”/“Burning” series sticks to its core as a humorous car racing action series about cohesion in a family of motor enthusiasts:
“Instead of outdoing the predecessor with even more insane set pieces in the style of “Fast & Furious”, the latest part once again hits the asphalt in a well-behaved and physically plausible way. Well, largely: Bræin couldn’t resist a completely insane action scene that shatters the tonal laws of the rest of the film with physically impossible tricks.”
The new film consists of a race that gets the plot rolling. This continues with a race against time (Roy and Co. have to reach the Nürburgring in time), is interrupted by small races in between (Roy and Co. encounter USA street racing clans, who challenge them) and is ultimately resolved in a big race. What could be a straightforward narrative freed from the slow pathos of some “Fast & Furious” parts is, however, such a shallow script when implemented that any tension is nipped in the bud.
The backdrops of “Asphalt Burning” are impressive.
In the latest film about car freak Roy, Christopher Grøndahl & Kjetil Indregard, who are responsible for the script, miserably miss what made part one so entertaining: The beginning of this film series was constructed in such a way that the central car race can be understood as a shared father and daughter an undertaking that brought things closer was outlined – and thus its course became more important. In the second part, the character drawing was a bit more erratic, but the action passages still had a certain emotional depth. This is no longer the case in “Asphalt Burning”: the characters are just thin transfers – and anyone who doesn’t know the first two parts will have serious problems attributing any character traits to the majority of the recurring supporting characters. So the characters degenerate into an anonymous mass – and the central conflict is therefore incredibly irrelevant. With the prior knowledge from the first two parts, however, the initial situation can at least be explained: No, this is not a macho ritual in which the woman is offered as a prize. It’s an excuse for this “Familia” (to use Dom Toretto’s words) to put the pedal to the metal on a day of celebration. It gets worse as soon as Roy has to win back his fiancée, because Alexandra Maria Lara’s villain Robyn creates such a stupid jealousy scenario, which is then maintained with completely stupid misunderstandings that the characters come across as stupid and unsympathetic because they don’t see through the problems.
“The characters are just thin transfers – and anyone who doesn’t know the first two parts will have serious problems attributing any character traits to the majority of the recurring supporting characters.”
Due to this very lame subterfuge for the following action sequences and the now completely watered-down character drawing, the element of tension remains negligible. There’s little reason to get excited – even though Bræin and cinematographer Askild Edvardsen capture the frenzy in clearly lit, razor-sharp images, the spectacle isn’t big, original or fast-paced enough to carry the film alone. Individual car stunts such as hair-trigger overtaking maneuvers give “Asphalt Burning” enough of a reason to exist to keep die-hard genre fans hooked for the duration of the approximately 100 minutes of the film, and for local viewers the parade of stars from Ralf Kabelka to Milan Peschel to Wenche Myhre is a must little “Oops, what are they all looking for here?” bonuses. Nevertheless, we’re left with an action comedy that doesn’t live up to its predecessors, is probably anti-advertising for them, and on top of that, after a solid finale, ends so abruptly (and leaving conflicts hanging) that it borders on refusing to work.
Conclusion: “Asphalt Burning” is the disappointing sequel to an action insider tip film series with guest stars – it’s better to catch up on parts one and two than start with part three unprepared!
“Asphalt Burning” is now available to stream on Netflix.