Asphalt Burning (2020) Review
Asphalt Burning or Børning 3 as it’s known in its native Norway completes the trilogy started by the original Børning back in 2014. Director Hallvard Bræin’s (Gold Run, Giganten) Scandanavian take on The Cannonball Run proved to be popular enough on an international level that Netflix picked it up for release in multiple countries.
Roy (Anders Baasmo Christiansen, In Order of Disappearance) and Sylvia (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen, The Quake) are getting married. Or at least they were until Robyn (Alexandra Maria Lara, Rush) appears from out of the bride-to-be’s past, beats Roy in the pre-wedding race and drives off with Sylvia. Now Roy will have to go to Germany and beat Robyn on her home turf, the famed Nürburgring track, to prove himself and win her back.
For the third film in a road racing franchise, Asphalt Burning is pretty light on actual racing. Apart from the pre-wedding race, which isn’t particularly exciting, the first act is more like a rom-com/road trip film than anything else. Jokes about picking up riders, Nybakken’s (Otto Jespersen, Troll Hunter) hearse ending up with a body in it and constant confusion and mistaken identity among the multitude of characters named Roy can be funny. But people watch these films to see cars going fast.
Finally, after Roy races Lemmy (Henning Baum, Catweazle) a motorhead obsessed with the late Motothead singer, things pick up. There’s an extended chase that starts on the Autobahn while Roy and Nybakken are on a trailer working on the Mustang. Needless to say, it doesn’t stay on there long, and Roy and his daughter Nina (Ida Husøy) get to duel with a police supercar.
Unfortunately, the film suffers from some of the worst CGI/Green Screen work I’ve seen in a long time. The obviously screened in backgrounds during the chase are bad enough. But the CGI during the climax to it would have been laughed at twenty years ago. I can only assume the filmmakers ran out of money and couldn’t afford to redo them. Not that whoever did the effects deserved to be paid for such substandard work. It ruins what should have been a breathtaking sequence.
Another issue for some viewers, being the third film in the franchise, Asphalt Burning, was filmed with the assumption that the audience was familiar with the characters. So while the story itself is self-contained, those who haven’t seen either of the first two films may have a hard time figuring out what’s going on at first.
Even once they do figure it out, there’s not a lot interesting going on in Asphalt Burning. The jokes are subpar, the driving has its moments, but the races that start and finish the film are subpar, and the effects are abysmal. Writers Christopher Grøndahl and Kjetil Indregard, as well as director Hallvard Bræin, just seem to have been going through the motions and it shows. Asphalt Burning is a sad end to what was a fun ride.
Asphalt Burning will debut on Netflix on January 2nd. You can check the franchise Facebook page for more.