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It doesn’t take much calculus to quickly deduce the parts amounting to Netflix’s thrilling Hyperdrive, which include 10% straightforward reality show, 10% game show, 40% American Ninja Warrior, and 40% Fast and Furious.
PRODUCERS: Aaron Catling, Charlize Theron
Lacking all pretense and pose, it’s 10 episodes of entertaining nonsense.
The show is executive-produced by actress Charlize Theron and the makers of Battlebots—which explains the breathtaking engineering. Producers built out a ridiculous obstacle course, then swept the globe in search of 28 drivers of various driving disciplines and experience. They were put onto this vehicle death trap to race for the best time. Fox Sports 1’s Mike Hill and Lindsay Czarniak add polish, former UFC champion Michael Bisping adds an international/tough-guy factor, and car expert Rutledge Wood brings credibility. Everyone’s mic’d up for sound, and the action camera angles are perfect. No detail is spared.
Hyperdrive starts with qualifying rounds and reality-TV vignettes mixed in for humanity. Initially racing for the best times, drivers can be penalized if they miss targets, or hit barriers, or go off-course. Each can prove costly, as the worst times are progressively eliminated. In the duration, you’re entertained by the donuts, water-hazard strategies, and hairpin turns at ridiculous speeds.
The show’s most entertaining giant gadget is called “the Leveler,” a cross-bridge that drivers must first climb, and then eventually, balance by negotiating the car’s weight differential. “Target Zone” contains diamond-shaped targets that participants whip the vehicle’s tail-end to smash.
Diversity is big and central to this show’s appeal. There are Japanese and German drift drivers, a rally-car racer actually named Fielding Shredder, a Brazilian racing prodigy, and even a millionaire in a Lamborghini, not necessarily built for sweeping turns. Most importantly, Hyperdrive is an egalitarian event, at least on the surface. (It would be interesting to learn why and how drivers were selected, and how much practice time was given.) Everyone is there, men and women from different corners of the globe, competing for the same prize.
Hyperdrive evolves into “knockout rounds,” where last-place is eliminated, but the next-to-last drivers battle head-to-head on a shorter, but challenging course. In the final, six survivors compete against each other and against “the Monster,” a deranged racecourse apparently designed by a wildly imaginative child.
All of this makes Hyperdrive roaring fun to watch, especially once you can get past the first few, monotonous time-trial episodes. Lacking all pretense and pose, it’s 10 episodes of entertaining nonsense and doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
Looking for something more specific? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, rom-coms, LGBT movies, alien movies, gangster movies, Westerns, film noir, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, old movies when you need something classic, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Kahron Spearman is a music and film critic whose work can also regularly be regularly found in the Austin Chronicle.