He’s been a green superhero in The Hulk, defended an ancient Greek city in Troy, and gone to the rescue of stranded troops in Black Hawk Down.
So can Eric Bana now save the Aussie large car whose woes are beyond the surgical skills of government packages, marketing campaigns and hasty engine revisions.
Probably not. Don’t expect to see reports of new V8s booming as a result of Bana’s auto-focus movie, Love the Beast.
But don’t be surprised if there’s a spike in sales of classic cars … and perhaps particularly higher interest in the 1974 XB GT Falcon Coupe at the centre of the film – and at the centre of Bana’s life since his teens.
Watch the Love the Beast trailer here...
Released nationally this week, the film follows Bana’s journey with the car through first getting it to driveable standard, then as a touchstone for his early social life, and finally to the years of dipping into racing that brought it to a crashing end in the slippery rally that is Targa Tasmania.
Part home movie, part car cult film, part psychological and sociological analysis, the story is told using narrative from Bana, his family and longtime friends – and a few more recent ones like Top Gear linchpin Jeremy Clarkson, comedian Jay Leno and a teeth-grittingly tedious Dr Phil (of Oprah fame and spin-off).
And it works. Through a range of mechanisms, and some great camera work – best seen on the big screen — Love the Beast manages to infect you with the near-romantic passion for classic muscle cars and racing, while not ignoring the obvious dangers.
And since he’s now fairly at home in a Hollywood that is obsessive about airbrushing the personal image, it’s great to see Bana’s still proud to trot out the kind of early family photos and footage that would otherwise be cringe-worthy.
There were occasional moments that seemed a little contrived, but this was mainly because they stood out against the natural charm of most of the film.
It’s warm, it’s casual, and in places it’s very funny. Much like hanging out in the garage with your mates.
Is Bana’s Ford XB Coupe the best muscle car? Or is it something from Holden or Chrysler, or perhaps even one of the Europeans?