So evidently, Paul Walker is now forced to star in every car-themed film that will ever be made. This time around, it’s Walker playing the ex-con (not Vin Diesel) who’s been recently paroled and heads off to South Africa (because of course parolees can just travel internationally to a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world), to meet up with his estranged ex-wife (who we never see but do hear on a cell phone). Things are hardly going peachy when he realizes he’s been given the wrong rental car but takes it anyway. With what follows, let’s hope he opted for the insurance.
The whole film takes place in a rental car. Seriously, I’m not kidding. In a car! And it appears bad guys have been doing more than just joyriding in it. Seems that the car has been used in a crime when Michael (Paul Walker) discovers several items not usually found in a rental—a cell phone that sends cryptic messages, a loaded handgun under the seat, and a bound and gagged woman in the trunk. Well, what guy wouldn’t want that with an upgrade?
Turns out the woman is a prosecuting attorney working on a huge police corruption case and the cops she’s investigating want her dead. The bad guys turn out to be corrupt cops and Michael of course, wants no part of it. She can’t go to the police, the hospital is out of the question, he even tries threatening her with the gun but he just can’t seem to get out of this situation.
The two actors, one a white male American and the other a South African actress (Naima McLean), actually make a pretty decent pairing, but it’s cut short by an unfortunate yet deadly fate, then it’s all on Michael to do what he hoped he wouldn’t have to—get involved and make good on what she set out to do even if it means risking his life.
It’s an action film with a bit of a message, but really, even though the film runs less than 90 minutes, you just sort of sit there while your mind wanders and you begin asking yourself, “Doesn’t he ever get out of that damn car?” There are a lot of holes in the script which, had more thought been put into it, and had it been tighter and more fully developed, this film would’ve been much more tolerable to sit through.
South Africa, really? Maybe it got lost in translation somewhere, but why does this film need to be set in South Africa? It certainly wasn’t for the exotic locations, since the film takes place in Johannesburg, a bustling metropolis. It could’ve easily taken place in downtown Cleveland and you never would’ve noticed the difference.
Also, I actually like Paul Walker. He’s pretty under-rated as an actor and he isn’t so bad in this film. The problem is Paul Walker. Aside from his scenes with Maclean, he’s pretty much solo in that car. While Walker is a decent actor, he’s not strong enough an actor to really carry an entire film on his own. Although I doubt any A-lister would’ve taken this role, Walker just doesn’t have the acting chops to make Vehicle 19 anything but a notch above a straight to DVD release.
If you think you’re getting Fast and Furious Part Seven, forget it. For all its silly, shoot ‘em up caper-ness the series has become, they are still testosterone-fueled action films that audiences around the world love. It’s all about escapism. Vehicle 19 makes you want to escape, or flip channels, or zone out. It has promise and potential, but it just seems the writing ran out of gas. It should’ve been left in the writer’s shop a bit longer. Wait until the film premiers on cable TV if you’re still interested in checking it out.
Do a Shot: as soon as the opening credits begin.
Take a Drink: when you realize it’s just going to be 90 minutes of Paul Walker and a camera thisclose to his face.
Do a Shot: when you see Naima McLean slither out of the trunk onto the back seat still tied up and you immediately think Human Centipede for some odd reason.
Take a Drink: when a knife wielding mugger doesn’t scare Walker in the least and then runs after he lets Walker slowly pull his gun on him, even though the mugger had his knife thisclose to Walker’s neck.
Do a Shot: if you even remotely get what the movie was about.
Take a Drink: when the end credits roll.