Documentary film director Chris Paine’s follow up to the controversial 2006 Who Killed the Electric Car is proving just as thought-provoking and entertaining as his first cinematic attempt to out automakers he believes are intentionally hindering development of electric cars with mass-market appeal. E3 Spark Plugs finds Revenge of the Electric Car a fascinating look into the inner workings of automakers’ electric car research and development programs and one eccentric drivers’ dogged determination to defy the automotive powers-that-be.
In Who Killed the Electric Car, Paine sought to educate the masses about the electric car’s place in history and expose the destruction in the early 2000s of thousands of new electric cars – by the same car companies that made them. The film took to task officials who squelched the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, along with the laundry list of “accomplices,” including the government, Big Oil, hydrogen proponents and SUV-loving consumers. Today, the industry is seeing a resurgence in the demand for low- or no-emission vehicles and a few automakers are in a heated race to finally bring a widely-accepted option to the market.
A primary draw of Revenge of the Electric Car for viewers is the film crew’s unprecedented access to R&D programs at General Motors, Nissan and Tesla Motors. The cast of real life characters includes legendary GM executive Bob Lutz, Nissan CEO and President Carlos Ghosn and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, as well as Greg “Gadget” Abbott – the eccentric who just won’t wait for the big boys to man up. Each is in a heated race against the others to develop and deliver the electric car that even the most skeptical American drivers will embrace. Also making entertaining appearances are Hollywood hitters Tim Robbins (who narrates), Danny DeVito, Jon Favreau, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Adrian Grenier along with Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis and political satirist Stephen Colbert .
Says New York Times Film Critic Daniel Gold: “Revenge is that rare artifact, a snapshot of a major industry shift on its way to a tipping point… a slick, enjoyable valentine to a retooling industry.”
And Jalopnik Senior Editor Mike Spinelli: “The strength of Revenge lies in its storytelling. The film’s multithreaded, character-driven narrative humanizes corporate entities that (Paine) once portrayed as monolithic, making a complex business story more gripping for its intimacy … The stakes are staggeringly high. We get the idea that building electric cars isn’t merely an act of political or social significance, it’s a brutally risky endeavor demanding superhuman devotion.”
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