In the years running up to the London Olympics, there were quite a few films planned to tie in with the sporting extravaganza. Few of them actually went into production but one that did was Fast Girls, which focuses on a group of female British athletes as they train for a big competition.
Shania (Lenora Crichlow) is a working class girl from a rundown part of London, who wants to be a great athlete but only has dilapidated tracks to run on. However thanks to her coach and her natural talent, she qualifies for the World Championships and is invited to join the relay team by trainer Tommy Southern (Noel Clarke). Suddenly thrown into the world of major meets, Shania almost immediately clashes with the posh Lisa (Lily James), whose father is a former champion and also a major player in the UK team selection. As the two butt heads, Shania’s will is tested, as well as her discipline to do what it takes to win at the highest level. She’s got the talent, but can Shania make it?
It’s a typical underdog that doesn’t really offer a lot more than getting from A-Z from the against-all-odds beginning, through the trials and tribulations of sporting life, and onto to the will-they/won’t they win ending? The film’s main problem is that it’s such a standard, lightweight story that it’s a bit difficult to care. It’s also true that now that we’ve all seen the triumph of Team GB this summer, Fast Girls depiction of a rather, well, amateurish team, who seem to spend more time arguing and taking part in class warfare than training, seems a bit silly. In fact it’s slightly daft that the actresses engage in more believable training to be athletes in the special features – which includes a featurette on the intense work they had to do to convince on the track – than they do in the film.
Fast Girls works in a simple way, but there’s little to it really, so that while younger viewers may enjoy it, even they may feel it’s underplaying what it takes to be a top athlete. It just doesn’t feel real, which makes it difficult to get too involved with it, and with so little beyond the rather straightforward plot, it’s all a little underwhelming.
It looks pretty good on Blu-ray, with nice bright colours, even if the clarity isn’t quite a sharp as we’ve come to expect for new films in HD. You might expect Blu-ray to really help make the footage on the track exciting, but the movie uses so much slow-mo and choppy editing, it’s a bit difficult to make these scenes all that thrilling. Obviously most of the actresses aren’t real athletes, but the way the races are shot it’s so obviously trying to hide their lack of world record pace, that it would have been better just to show them running normally.
There’s nothing really wrong with Fast Girls, but there’s not much to make it stand out either. It’s one of those films that just sort of passes in front of your eyes in a decent enough fashion, but leaves remarkably little impression. There’s the potential here for a really good underdog sports story with a girl power dimension, but the results are pretty underwhelming.
Overall Verdict: Fast Girls is okay but there’s not a lot to its against-all-odds tale, and what there is isn’t all that convincing, particularly now we’ve seen the professionalism and dedication of the Team GB athletes.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac