Thursday, 12 September 2013



Some people obviously believe that all you need to do to hit box-office gold would be to put Paul Walker in a car. After all, he was in all but one of the Fast And Furious movies, everyone likes a good car chase, Johannesburg is an underused movie location, and in any case so little money has been spent on this that it can't help but turn a profit if more than half a dozen people bother to rent it, right? Well, we don't get to see a lot of Jo'burg, sadly, and we don't get to see much of the screeching tyres action either since director Mukunda Michael Dewil has elected to shoot the whole movie (save for the very last shot) from inside the rental minivan that Walker picks up at the airport.

It's a great setup: inside Vehicle 19, Walker discovers a mobile phone and a handgun - and then a kidnapped woman tied up in the boot. She's a prosecutor who's uncovered a sex trafficking ring masterminded by the Chief Of Police, and inevitably they're both chased and shot at by corrupt cops. Presumably he was just given the wrong vehicle in error, but since he's an ex-con who's broken his parole by jetting out to South Africa in the first place, there's no-one in authority he can turn to so he has to figure a way out by himself....

Much of the film is actually catalogue of Paul Walker driving incredibly badly. Driving while on a mobile is one thing - he opens food and drink at the same time, and unfolds a giant map of the city while moving in traffic, while not looking where he's going and even forgetting which side of the road he should be on. Worse, he makes terrible decisions: when he finds the woman in the boot, why doesn't he just let her go? Why does he obey the obviously crooked instructions on the mobile to drive to a remote warehouse? Why doesn't he throw the gun away? It's hard to get involved with the predicament of his character when he consistently behaves so stupidly. In effect, you're just stuck in a car with an idiot for 90 minutes.

Because the camera never moves from the passenger seat, the car chases lose a lot of their excitement because we as an audience can't see them properly. Presumably it's attempting to blur the line between passive viewer and active participant, but I don't want to be a participant: that's why I rented a DVD instead of running red lights and causing accidents. I suppose there are others, but the only other movie I can think of that never exits the vehicle is the teen horror Five Across The Eyes, which similarly doesn't work because the inside of a car isn't inherently cinematic. Still: it's a nice idea, but the plot doesn't make any sense, the directorial choices pretty much kill it off, and Walker desperately needs the hilarious testosterone frenzy of Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson to bounce off.


Nissan Micra:

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