Laurence Fishburne’s commanding intensity and Derek Luke’s (Antwone Fisher
) credible compassion nearly allow us to swallow this awkward, old-fashioned melodrama and contemporary sort of Western set in the high-octane milieu of modern underground motorcycle racing. After Smoke’s mechanic is killed by an errant, airborne bike during a street race, the man’s widow asks Smoke (Fishburne) to keep her son (Luke) from further involvement in the dangerous hobby that dominates his life. As a character, Smoke is developed as a sort of weary, legendary gunfighter who must face one last showdown before hanging up his firearms in a story, based on a High Times magazine article, that asks whether blood is thicker than nitro-laced gasoline. M.H.