Vehicle 19 (2013)
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It was a good story overall and I must say excellent cinematography. The film takes places in Johannesburg, South Africa and the film does an excellent job showing the ins and outs of the city.
Paul Walker does a great job playing Michael Woods. His role reminds me of his role in Running Scared as he seems to have a short fuse and quite foul-mouthed. Don't let the trailers of this movie fool you however. You see Paul Walker and car chases and might expect a Fast and the Furious type of flick. However this movie is more of a car adventure/drama than action/car chase movie. I can say however that most of the movie takes place in a car.
I liked this movie overall but it is not the type of movie that you rush out to see in the theaters. There aren't enough action sequences to get the theater effect. Wait for DVD.
What screwed up the movie for me was the numerous logical errors right from start. Car company gives a rental without checking and cleaning out the vehicle? Why would a person in a new country rent a car...instead of using a taxi or Super Shuttle or whatever? In 2011 who does not have a smartphone which has GPS capability? Who does not come prepared to a new country without specific instructions to reach the US Embassy? Paul takes so much time to decide to spray his car. If you are a criminal on the run the first thing you would do is to ditch your vehicle and try using another. Or just hire a cab to get to US embassy.
A different Director would have made this a great movie. Sorry I cannot go beyond 5 in rating this movie
What I am about to say might, for some films, be a plot spoiler, but as I've established the plot is poop, I don't think I need to worry.
So, Paul Walker arrives at Jo'burg airport, picks up the wrong rental car and subsequently discovers a silenced gun has been left for the rightful renter for the purpose of killing the female lawyer currently tied up and gagged in the trunk. Hmm. Someone has gone to the trouble of kidnapping this woman, sourcing a silenced weapon, bundling her into a rental car, but doesn't bother with that extra step of killing her. (This is a little like that old James Bond moment when the baddies always but always fail to actually kill him when they have the chance.) Instead, they have hired someone from abroad to fly in, pick up the car, take it somewhere remote and kill the woman. Come on, people, this is one of the most violent countries on earth; you couldn't find someone local to do the job?
This is, therefore, one of the most contrived plot openings ever, and its discordant noise reverberates throughout the entire film. Paul Walker's character makes some equally idiotic moves with the sole purpose of progressing what remains of the plot, ignoring common sense at every turn in a sterling effort to place himself in as much danger as possible.
You get the gist.
The final scene is a direct rip-off of Clint Eastwood's The Gauntlet, which is a far better get-this-lady-to-safety film than Vehicle 19 could ever hope to be.
It's rather sad. As much as I really like Paul Walker as an action hero, and mourn his untimely passing, this is a pitiful epitaph for the man.
The main protagonist stumbles his way through what should be a routine trip from the airport to his girlfriend's house. Firstly, he's in a strange country but has no Sat-Nav.
Instead of concentrating on the road, he's eating, drinking, doing everything distracting that he can to ensure that he nearly knocks down every pedestrian in sight.
Then he finds a gun in his car. What does he do? Throw it away? No, he decides because the car has a gun in it, he doesn't like it any more, and he abandons it in the middle of a dangerous South African township and starts walking!
Another ten minutes, and another half dozen ridiculously ill-thought out events and we couldn't watch it any longer. Avoid.
All the negatives of pacing problems aside, reason for 7 stars are twofold: 1) Paul Walker's excellent performance and 2) just driving around in JoBurg was interesting in itself. JoBurg is not the most typical setting for a thriller. Previously, I had written Paul Walker of as a pretty-boy surfer-dude who likes to drive fast cars. But in this one he showed that he is a quality actor who can deliver subtle and intense performances.
Fifteen minutes into the movie, my wife whispers that our dog has more intelligence than the main character. That sums up the writing script. I won't go into the countless preposterous senseless things that happen because my review would be as long as the screen play itself. But, diehards that we are, we watched it to the end. All 85 minutes of it. You read correctly. The writer couldn't even think of another 5 minutes of junk to at least make it a respectable 90 minutes. Oops! Did I say: "Watched it to the end"? That would insinuate that there was actually an ending to the story. There Was an end to the movie but the end of the story must have been cut. I guess the writer figured that since most people would have walked out already, he could save a few minutes of his time and money by just not wasting time on an ending.
This movie was obviously written for a percentage of the younger crowd that support double digit I.Q.'s. Of course, if you are one of the above, just ignore my obviously ridiculous review, accept my apology, and rent this Exciting, Action, Thriller immediately.
If I sounded cynical or misanthropical, guilty as charged. I realize that movie makers lie, cheat, and do whatever they can think of to Sell A Movie so that they can milk the public for every penny that they can. But, to this day, I still feel defiled when I voluntarily give up my hard earned money for something that is advertised as good when it turns out to be just another ripoff. And, as usual in the case of bad cinema drivel, the trailer was once again better than the entire movie. Heck, just watch the trailer 40 times. That's free, you'll get your 85 minutes worth of entertainment, and you'll enjoy it more than the actual movie.
We meet a guy out on parole after killing someone in an accident, going to Jo'Burg, South Africa, and going to be there on a scheduled time, meeting his wife at the American embassy. But things go wrong off right after landing on a delayed plane. He gets the wrong car by Hertz, where there are two car rented by the police. He finds himself in an awful predicament, and is soon hunted by corrupt police. But being the son of a sadist, the corrupt police has "picked" the wrong guy to frame for a crime. Paul Walker is great, acting very solid.
I like the South African touch here. An American coming to a very different and exotic country, where he immediately finds himself not knowing anything. This is fresh film making, and far from your average stupid Hollywood flick.
Don't listen to the haters here. They were probably expecting a Fast & Furious rip off or lookalike movie here. This is nothing such. It's a rather exceptionally different thriller. Not everything is 100 percent believable, but still it's way better than a lot of others.
So, "earlier", the protagonist named Michael gets into his airport rental which is problematic as it apparently isn't the vehicle he requested. Being already late and apparently seeking to renew a troubled life and relationship he calls a woman who he is to meet. This movie is already playing on the modus operandi of giving almost no back-story excepting there has been trouble in Michael's life, likely of the criminal kind, and he is in a far place hoping for a renewed relationship with his significant other (who turns out to be his wife who is employed at The American Embassy). Audibly, as we yet have no idea who the woman is, a phone conversation transpires in which she warns Michael not to let her down again - to which he says he will not. He repeats "stay out of trouble" several time over to himself as he drives. Funny, the writers feel it is important we know that trouble will ensue by ramming it home...Wow, thanks!
As Michael drives everything seems "off". He gets lost and in stuck traffic. A call to the woman who he is meeting underscores just how "hanging-on-a-thread" the their relationship is as she mentions a reference to if he has stopped for liquor implying myriad trust issues. Good, now we can have a "doomed" love story undercurrent!
While waiting in traffic, a wolf casually strolls by his rear-view mirror between traffic. Spooky? Things are definitely off in this place. Two kids pull a "grift" on him as he waits. Things ramp up for the worse. He resumes his trek to meet the woman, Angie which turns out to be his (estranged?) wife, but not only is he still lost, but he finds a gun under the seat and he gets a phone call from a mysterious mobile phone planted among the things in the car. After this he decides to just dump the car and it's contents, but a second call convinces him that there was a legitimate mix-up involving an under-cover police person for who the car was intended. He is to meet the police to simply exchange the car. While the viewer now has a feeling of a story coming together you're still as "lost" as the Michael character is as he tries to find his new destination. This movie purposely holds back hoping to build suspense. Even realizing he will get a "tongue-lashing" from Angie, Michael calls her to get directions to his car-exchange destination. She is told she has to trust him and to not ask questions. She acquiesces because you know she just loves the punishment by her one "true" love has already given...And, now there promises to be more good times ahead!
Just as Michael receives Angie's directions (possibly alluding to much more than how to get to "Smut" street) things get much worse. A tied-up woman emerges from the back seat area. Things build toward maximum strangeness as Michael is almost shot and another call, from who Michael believes to be the helpful police, exposes that whoever these people are they know that he has broken his parole and are not the trust-able kind of police. The passenger is a public official about to expose corruption inside the government and she believes she is to be eliminated at whatever cost. The chief of police is heading a major sex-trafficking ring. Now, after a bit of painful slow build-up, a story is starting to develop.
The meeting goes wrong just as expected. Michael and Rachel, the kidnapped public prosecutor, escape...Yeah, that was expected even though they were outclassed in manpower, horsepower, and firepower. Did we expect anything less? Not exactly, plus we get a dumb fierily car crash by one of the chase vehicles. There is much more unbelievable evading the police to be done however, so apparently even though Michael's wife is "safe" inside the U.S. Embassy he becomes a man on a mission with nothing to lose. This could be a decent, if already done, story...But, somehow the trek to the outcome isn't believable enough to "grip" the viewer with the suspense the movie aspires to create. It's just a depressing and far-fetched ride to the "big" ending.
Even if the first part of the movie was built on a slow, sometimes painfully, reveal. We now get, more or less, the standard running for your life from just about everyone. The great effort to build a slowing evolving bigger and bigger suspense seems to fail due, primarily, to the quite unbelievable evading of the police and living through it. I guess a Chrysler mini-van is suppose to make that more difficult or something? All in all, though watchable not particularly a good movie within the genre of an suspenseful drama with action. In the end it rates no higher than a 4 in spite of Paul Walker's serviceable (i.e. decent yet not saving) acting hampered by an extremely tepid screenplay.
But the movie failed to have control and the director miserably failed to get a thrill out of it.
It can be considered a better City Tour of Johannesburg then a movie worth enjoying.
By the name and the cast the movie was to be a thriller...
But it was more of a waster.
I always consider a movie a HIT when it keeps coming to your mind even the next day and the next day.
Its the flavor...
But this one i wanted to sleep in the theater rather than waste my time watching it.
For those who wish to see a plot out line, the following my provide that information: 'Michael (Paul Walker) is an ex-con breaking his parole conditions to visit the ex-wife he hasn't seen in 5 years. He's late and a power outage at the airport rental company mixes up his booking. Driving now, he hears a phone beep but not his phone -a phone inside the rental cars glove compartment. Someone probably left it by mistake. Stuck in traffic now, Michael, scratching around under the car seat, feels something - a gun, the kind of gun you kill people with. The phone rings and Michael is meant to acknowledge receipt of the message. Michael tries to mumble out some explanation that it's not his phone, but a rental mix-up. The phone goes dead. The phone rings again. The voice is friendlier now, explaining he got the wrong car: it was meant for an undercover policeman. Michael is relieved he's not in trouble. The detective gives Michael directions to drop off the Minivan and get another vehicle. Michael gets lost, the minivan gets stuck on a bumpy dirt road. Michael struggles to get the vehicle out of a ditch, having to really give it some gas. The minivan pops out of the ditch. But as it does, the back seat flips forward -- something rolling out of the trunk! A woman, bound and gagged. He pulls off her gag. Weak but with enough awareness to see Michael is no threat, she tells him she's been kidnapped, she's got to testify in a major corruption trial. Without her testimony the prosecution has no case.' And car chase goes on and on and on.
For those unable to find anything else on the On Demand channels, this will pass the time – but it is definitely headed for obscurity.
The first thing that must be mentioned is the grim view it portrays of Johannesburg, South Africa. From what I understand of the place (having never been) what we see is quite accurate to how things really are, but it just felt as though the quantity it was shown in was overkill. There were constantly people coming up to cars with knives demanding wallets, or kids coming up and distracting from one window while another child steals things from the other window, or even people driving by a pulled over police car and throwing things at it before driving off. Just a few examples of things that just kept coming up and were for the most part completely unrelated to the story and held little relevance to anything. Perhaps writer/director Mukunda Michael Dewil had a bad experience there once?
The writing is lazy throughout. The opening scene shows Walker's character in a car chase trying to avoid the police. The screen then pauses and we are shown the word on the screen "earlier". I don't mind beginning a movie with a scene that takes place later in the piece, but the scene needs to provide at least some intrigue or mystery. This movie is called 'Vehicle 19', it wouldn't have taken a genius to work out there would be a car chase in it at some point. The set-up is incredibly lazy, to the point that no explanation is even attempted as to why Walker's character is given the wrong car in the first place. The characters make incredibly unrealistic decisions throughout which makes it really hard to have any empathy for them. Naima McLean's acting was near unwatchable. Walker himself does what he can with a terrible script and terrible actors to work off. I was actually impressed with the effort he put in. I'm sure he realised pretty early in the piece what a shocker he'd signed on to, so it can't have been easy.
It's a real shame this movie has to stay on Walker's résumé, especially in the latter part of it. He had some pretty good movies in his time, 'Joy Ride' being a personal favourite of mine and of course the 'Fast and Furious' series. Of course no actor is clean of the odd shocker so it'll be forgiven. But I plead with you - if you get the urge to go and rent/buy some Walker films to remember him by just skip over this one.
Without being a great movie, it isn't, it kept me well entertained. yes there are plot holes, but on the hole, you are always wondering what is going to be next.
I would have even given it a 7, if the end was not disappointing, and it seemed, that it was rushed into. Many questions about Paul Walker's character stay unanswered, and you feel like something is missing. A bit more explanation. Not that it matter that much, as you not NEED to know to understand his motifs.
Paul Walker has proved he can be a good actor. His performance in Running Scared was fantastic, and while I would never consider them great performances, he always has presence in a Fast & Furious movie. Staring in STD junk like this, is not going to help his career what so ever. It starts off well enough. We get an exciting car chase, but it's a prelude of events to come in the end. Most of this movie literally takes place in a minivan. Paul Walker rarely ever gets out of the van. It was a potentially intriguing idea, with poor execution. I actually didn't mind it at first. I was really enjoying Paul Walker & Naima McLean (Rachel Shabangu, the kidnapped woman in the car) chemistry and banter. But just as I really started to get into it, her character disappears, and it all goes to hell. I soon became very bored, and the villain (Detective Smith) talking on the phone all the time, became somewhat tiresome. The ending is especially inane. It felt entirely pointless after witnessing the ending, and did nothing but anger me. As I said, Paul Walker is pretty good here, but he isn't enough to make this anything more than mediocre.
Bottom line: See it if you must, but don't expect anything remotely worthwhile, other than the first 30 minutes or so. I would definitely skip this one if I were you. It's just not worth it
And JoBurg looks a menace too.
Keeping the camera in the car helps the tension. Must have been a bitch to film it all like that.
Solid all round. Sure this is going to get many people to take notice.
Before I started this review, I read what a few other reviewers had to say. I sometimes do that to see if what I have to tell has already been said, in which case it's pointless to repeat the review. And for this movie I read the complaint of one reviewer about the rental car being returned by a hit-man with the gun, cellphone and living victim still inside - which doesn't make sense, unless you're the most retarded hit-man ever. In fact, being unaware that this would be the case, I started piecing the plot together as the movie went along, and assumed that the car was being set up for the hit-man, to kill he victim somewhere remote and dispose of the body - with the car rental company being in on the deal, but making the mistake of handing out the wrong key to a passer-by. Still dubious though. I may need to re-watch the movie to get more clearance on that, but I accepted as a given that our hero somehow stumbled into the adventure in some way. What bothered me more on the 'vehicle' angle, except the unclear premise, is the reluctance of our protagonist to ditch the car, even after it being broad casted on the news, the car being recognized, and it having bullet holes in the side window. Man, at least pull your window down, you're in Africa after all. Why would a person breaking parole purposely drive away in the wrong car against the wishes of the rental company and risk an arrest? And why oh why didn't anyone bother to track the rental with its GPS? All rentals have it to prevent theft. Especially in Africa. We get a lot of emphasis on the vehicle for no motivated reason; the movie is even named after it and most of the adventure takes place in it - but the approach feels forced.
That being said, what you will get is an above average thriller with great cinematography and acting. But there is something off in this movie and I can't quite put my finger on it. It may be that some characters - the judge and the ex-wife - get no screen time, or that the appearance of the bad guy is underplayed.
Still, I was genuinely entertained.
From the plot setup to the end nearly nothing is well thought out. You're in a foreign country you've never been too, don't speak the language, and they drive on the reverse side, so what do you do? Do you rent a car to drive yourself? This would have been far more interesting if after viewing the interesting sites of the city, Walker drives over and kills a child while looking at the map, drinking, and talking on his cell phone, then goes to prison and gets repeatedly beaten and raped before being sentenced to death, but saved by a rich politician relative who votes for the prison corporation that runs the jail. (BTW, I thought of that instantly as I wrote this review and would love to see that on film - copyright and money please!) Unfortunately, we have to suffer through a story trying to make an American idiot (both in and out of character) into a hero.
As it is, it's a film about a really stupid American in Africa, so Paul Walker makes a good casting pick in that sense. Add to that he's a recovering alcoholic and has the attention span of a 6 year old after a candy bar and pop and you'll be correct to conclude this is a frustrating film to watch. The writer/director also needs to catch up on watching Mythbusters.
It's not really Paul Walkers fault, but he does get typecast a lot with Fast & Furious themed movies. On the other hand he only really succeed in one other movie he was starring himself: Running Scared. You kinda hope he gets another script like that. Until then stick to the Fast & Furious franchise .. or watch him in lesser roles (Pawnshop Chronicles), if you're a fan of Paul Walker
In all I guess I would I have to give Walker an 'A' for effort. This movie is right along the lines of what he is known for, which is movies that are full of tasteless action but lack talent. I could see why this was not released in the U.S. It would have definitely bombed in U.S. theaters but I give it a 5 because it is what it is and did not pretend to be anything more.