Film Review: Revenge Of The Electric Car (2012)

on Thursday, July 19, 2012
'Revenge Of The Electric Car' (20 July '12) // Words: Saam Das

'Who Killed The Electric Car?' asked documentary filmmaker Chris Paine back in 2006, with a particular focus on the complete destruction of the first mass-produced electric powered vehicle, the General Motors EV1. Well, the electric car is back with a vengeance and Paine has returned to helm a new documentary championing his favoured form of more environmentally friendly automotive transport.

While it isn't essential to have seen Paine's 2006 documentary, 'Revenge Of The Electric Car' is certainly a companion piece - eschewing previously discussed topics like the hydrogen fuel cell wholeheartedly, narrowing its focus solely to electric battery powered motorcars. Equally, its focus is on the leaders of the industry, namely Bob Lutz of GM and Carlos Ghosn of Nissan/Renault.

Lutz and Ghosn are prominent supporters of electric vehicles, and their large corporate-backed vehicles are inspired by the likes of maverick Paypal co-founder Elon Musk's boutique Tesla company and to a much lesser extent, independent enthusiasts like Greg Abbott. Paine drew his sword long ago and these are presented as his fellow knights of the round table.

The narrative is perhaps self-congratulatory in its love affair of the electric vehicle - even in the face of global recession, the relatively expensive electric car is seen as "the future". Indeed, an early on-screen proclamation is that "the only way forward is electric cars", rather batting away any potentially more efficient solutions.

The scattered stories are brought together under a general theme but as with the slew of unexpected A-list cameos (Anthony Kiedis, Jon Favreau etc), the lack of cohesion is noticeable yet the film presents a hopeful message, one that we should welcome albeit with reservations. For example, there is little discussion of the total cost of ownership of these new vehicles, which have expensive batteries that will need replacing.

'Revenge Of The Electric Car' can ironically feel pedestrian at times but there is a certain happiness in the turning tide away from petrol and diesel, which has been suitably captured on camera by Chris Paine. An oversimplistic viewpoint but one that engages the viewer.


'Revenge Of The Electric Car' is out on limited release in UK cinemas through Dogwoof from 20 July.

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