A foreign traveler (Walker) unknowingly picks up a rental car that will tie him to a web of corrupt local police.
Directed: Mukunda Michael Dewil
What we think: Paul Walker can’t seem to stay away from cars at the moment, in between Fast Five and the recently released Fast and Furious 6 Walker took the lead in Vehicle 19.
Walker plays Michael Woods whose recently jumped parole and heads out to South Africa to see his girlfriend, in the hope of rekindling their relationship.
Picking up a rental car, a minivan, which is hardly fast or furious, it turns out to be the wrong choice as during his journey he’s chased down by the local police for the murder of a young woman.
The film for the majority of its entirety is shot from the inside of the car, with Walker rarely stepping out of the driver’s seat as he tries to navigate his way through a city he is totally unfamiliar with.
Films that capture one location need to rely on a number of things, firstly the acting has got to be top draw and secondly you’ve got to pull out the tension and hook the audience.
Phone Booth and Buried which placed its protagonists in a confined space paid off pretty well, but here Vehicle 19 struggles and almost splutters as if gasping for more fuel.
The problem is the despite Walker putting in a decent performance as a man with a goal who is pushed to the edge it lacks any real bite or conviction.
For the opening twenty minutes we see him converse with his girlfriend via phone, complain he’s got the wrong rental car and try to remember which side of the road he has to drive on.
It’s dull, and when you compare it with Ryan Reynolds’s opening twenty minutes in Buried where he’s confined to a 6 foot box, Vehicle 19 is way off the mark.
Relative unknown director Mukunda Michael Dewil leaves it too late, and when Woods discovers a phone and gun in the glove box as well as a bound and gagged girl in the trunk many of us have already turned the ignition off.
Woods is hunted by Detective Smith, a man with a terrifying accent that leaves genuine chills down your spine, for someone who only gets a minimal amount of screen time at the end he does leave a lasting impression.
It does have its rare moments and of course Walker gets to use his driving skills to full capacity as he’s perused through the townships and city streets by police cars that you’d expect would be able to catch up with a minivan.
It’s short but not so sharp, the surrounding locations begged for so much more than what was delivered. I’d much rather have seen Walker behind the wheel of a high performance vehicle…oh wait I can!
View the trailer
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