A struggling actor enters one of the most dangerous motorcycle races in the world and kicks up a lot of dust.
The Dakar Rally is an insane 15,000-kilometer chase across the desert to Dakar, Senegal, that involves dirt, death and a voracious African weed called “camel grass.” Professional riders and venturesome journeymen from all over the world enter the event every year, hoping to prove their mettle, and some of them never make it home alive. Boorman, a part-time British actor and motorcycle enthusiast, had a brief moment in the limelight with a reality-TV show and later a book (Long Way Round, 2005) that chronicled his adventures with pal Ewan McGregor as they circumnavigated the globe on their bikes. For his next move, he decided to make good on an offhand comment about entering the Dakar Rally. He solicited the help of several seasoned riders and began an intensive training process to prepare for the race. The resulting adventure is replete with colorful characters, hair-raising action and enough raw machismo to knock over an elephant. Boorman writes with simplicity and grace, although his first-person narrative ultimately sputters out. He certainly underwent some hardships in order to compete in the Rally, but he doesn’t quite seem to understand why he did it. The book hits its climax as the excited competitors line up at the starting line, then slowly loses momentum from there. This would have been a much more interesting story if the author had focused on some of the top riders and left his own ambitions out of it.
Gets off to a fast start, but flags before the finish line.