Friday, 7 June 2013

Vehicle 19

A lone American flies into South Africa. After collecting a rented car at the airport, he finds a mobile phone and a handgun in the vehicle, and there’s also a bound and gagged woman hidden in the boot. Vehicle 19 is a criminal conspiracy thriller filmed entirely from inside a car (or, actually, often from around the car looking in). Either way, the car is very much at the centre of this undeniably preposterous drama, and the novelty approach soon wears out its limited welcome. 

Unlike Cujo (1983), but just like Five Across The Eyes (2006), this movie fails because of the artificial, wholly pointless, situational restrictions placed upon storytelling. It is nothing more than another gimmick flick and, despite its high quality production values; it quite obviously lacks any of the intensity of Rodrigo Cort├ęs’ Buried (2010), another similarly constricted nightmare about an American abroad. While somewhat witless protagonist, Michael, performed rather weakly by Paul Walker (Timeline, John Dahl’s Joy Ride, and a mainstay of the Fast & Furious franchise), attempts to address his personal faults and correct all of the (presumably numerous) mistakes of his past, so our fugitive’s getaway vehicle drives through a car wash, and then visits a backstreet garage for a re-spray; mirroring the angst ridden hero’s final efforts to make a fresh start. (Gosh! That’s clever symbolism, eh?) 

Ultimately, this is a dismal effort and it drags on for twice the length required to adequately tell a middling tale. So, it is very easy to slip from wondering about what may happen next, to simply not caring at all. And, of course, such a reckless pursuit of redemption as this can only end in a tragedy during the inevitable confrontation with corrupt local cops. Yawn.

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