The Netflix original Burn Out is a French movie about a racer looking for his big break when he gets sucked into the crime underworld and forced to run drugs on a Ducati 1299 Panigale. No, the film is not inspired by the life of Marco Lucchinelli, if that’s what you’re thinking (too soon?).
In the grand tradition of biker B-movies, Burn Out has a script seemingly written by a film school dropout who knows as little about motorcycles as he does about plot devices and character development.
It’s easy to get duped into watching because there’s a slew of Ducatis in the movie, including 959 and 1299 Panigales, an old Monster Dark, a Hypermotard, and a Diavel. There’s also a brief cameo by a Kawasaki Ninja H2 and a KTM dirt bike. Some Dainese and Arai product-placement add to the hope that “maybe—just maybe—this one will be different.” It isn’t.
The film begins at a trackday where our moody protagonist, Tony, draws the attention of a team owner looking for new talent to partner alongside real life ex-racer Chris Walker (who does not appear in the film). After Tony’s invited to a tryout—because motorcycle racing, like high school cheerleading, depends on shame-based person-to-person comparisons to uncover true talent—he discovers his baby mama has been robbed of $50,000 worth of drugs she’d stashed in her sofa. Tony, the can’t-catch-a-break good guy, is forced to “work nights” for the mustachioed family man who runs the drug game and a sinisterly neck-tattooed henchman.
Burn Out commits the usual cardinal sins of biker movies: Ducati V-twin engine noises are replaced with inline-four noises, and a perfectly good Arai XD4 is rendered unsafe after Tony, ironically, uses it to crush a man’s skull (“experience—smash!— the Arai—smash!—difference!”).
After destroying a perfectly good helmet, our protagonist loses his innocence and loses his way. Perhaps the murdering had something to do with it. But it was a nice helmet. Regardless, the whole thing unravels when Tony gets too “burned out” trying to simultaneously maintain his day job as a forklift operator, become the next Johann Zarco, and run drugs to save his family. So I guess the moral is: Don’t bite off more than you can chew, otherwise you’ll “burn out.” Real deep stuff.
Not even Ducatis can redeem a movie this terrible. If you’re looking for motorcycle drama, better stick with watching MotoGP.