The Flying Scotsman

Movies
3 out of 5 stars
GREAT SCOT Miller breaks away.
GREAT SCOT Miller breaks away.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Americans like their sports films big and rousing, with a nail-biting countdown to the final buzzer and catharsis aplenty. The Flying Scotsman—from Scotland, unsurprisingly—is tuned to a somewhat different register. It tells the low-key true story of Graeme Obree (Trainspotting’s Miller), the struggling proprietor of a small Glasgow bike shop, who in 1993 constructed his own racing cycle out of scrap metal and washing-machine parts. Riding “Old Faithful,” this ambitious underdog succeeded in breaking the world one-hour record before his bike and his methods ran afoul of World Cycling Federation officials. Obree struggled to come back—he eventually won the World Pursuit Championship—and to overcome bipolar disorder, which led to the suicide attempt that opens the film.

Along for this ride are Obree’s wife (Fraser), manager (Boyd) and a paternal minister (Cox), all thinly sketched characters who never emerge as full-blooded people. While feature-debut director Douglas Mackinnon’s light touch may steer The Flying Scotsman away from the genre’s typical bathos (the techno-inflected score is blessedly free of bombast), it doesn’t engage the audience emotionally, either. This may be a film about inspiring athletic accomplishment, but my pulse never raised a beat. (Opens Fri; AMC Empire 25.) — Tom Beer

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