CAPSULE: This is the story of Mike Bauer, a man addicted to high-speed vehicles. A motorcycle accident took from him the use of his legs and left him paraplegic cared for by his family. But with the help of his doctor-- also a race car enthusiast--Bauer finds a way to recover his thrill of speed. By breaking this barrier Bauer seems to be a hero, but his true story is open to some interpretation. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
Mike Bauer loves being in the driver's seat--any driver's seat--and going fast. That is what he was doing one evening when he was riding a motorcycle he rebuilt. He misjudged a corner, lost control, and crashed, severing his spine in the process. For another man this could have ended his dreams of speed forever. But Mike's injuries are all in the lower half of his body. His dreams still work fine and his dreams are of speed.
The film is a short 55 minutes. Even there, extended sequences just show the view of the track from the front of the car. For a film about a man who likes things fast, his story is slowed down getting to the point.
Bauer's doctor is Scott Falci. Falci is also the Executive Producer of this film and he also is the owner of Falci Adaptive Motorsports, for which the film could really almost be a commercial. Falci suggests he can build a handicap-equipped car that Bauer can drive. And he uses not just any car, but a 2001 Corvette C5 Stingray, a sport and racecar that most racers would envy. DRIVEN: FROM WHEELCHAIR TO RACE CAR is the story of Mike Bauer and the car his doctor built for him. And it is the story of Mike Bauer's will to speed.
If the viewer wants to be impressed by Bauer's dogged determination, that is certainly one interpretation of the film. If you want to respect him for that go right ahead. Frankly, I see this story a very different way. Bauer is a man who has such a love of motor thrills that he gambled his family's future chasing a thrill. He lost that gamble big time.
Late in the evening of his accident he was riding a motorcycle he had built, taking risks, and he hurt himself badly. Immediately his family had to dedicate their lives to just maintaining him and keeping him alive. His son had to let go of a dream to be a champion golfer. Much of what the family had to do, caring for a self-selected paraplegic are tasks neither savory nor pleasant. In addition Bauer put his wife and probably his whole family through emotional hell. He was eventually ready to kill himself and was preparing for that. He stopped his suicidal plans when his doctor gives him a chance to get back into the drivers seat for more high- speed thrills. He got a racecar that even he in his paraplegic state can drive.
And what is he contributing to the effort of creating the car? Not much that was covered in the film. Well, he is just going to drive it around a track a few times. He does not seem to have the money to fund the project himself. He does not seem to be designing or building the car. His doctor is building a car tailored to Bauer. It is being built more or less for publicity for the doctor's corporation, Falci Adaptive Motorsports. It is to show as proof of concept that race cars really can be fitted to be driven by paraplegics. How much demand is there really for race cars for the handicapped? If one really wants to help paraplegics and quadriplegics, how many more of them in the Third World could have been helped with the money that went into modifying this car? Mike Bauer was one man who wanted speed and who had a Corvette Stingray modified for his use. How many more people out there could there be who have so specific a need and the money to fund it? This film falls short of winning the viewer's sympathy for Bauer or for the entire project. I will look elsewhere for inspiration and I give this dissatisfying film a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. DRIVEN: FROM WHEELCHAIR TO RACE CAR is available on DVD and will be on VOD platforms July 24.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3741376/combined
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2014 Mark R. Leeper