In its set-up, new indie action-thriller Vehicle 19 sounds undeniably intriguing. It tells the story of a man who is given the wrong car as the result of a mix-up with the rental agency and, after deciding that he doesn’t mind the change in model, discovers a gun, a cell phone, and a tied-up prisoner in the trunk.
You might not have picked up on this from watching the first two international trailers, but the experiment taking place in the film is that the camera never leaves the car (even though the protagonist might). Presumably, this is intended to communicate some kind of message about the protagonist being irrevocably tied to his unwelcome fate, but it’s a challenging choice that may succeed or fail depending on how well the director – and cinematographer – are able to pull it off.
It’s almost a shame, considering the setting of the film, that exploration only happens through a windshield. South Africa is a striking location to shoot in, as evidenced by Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 sci-fi District 9 and last year’s thriller Safe House. Not only do cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town have a certain kind of beauty that is largely untapped in mainstream cinema, the country’s turbulent socio-political history is a dramatic backdrop for any story.
It seems that South African writer-director Mukunda Michael Deuwil may have drawn from this on certain levels. The latest trailer for the film, which can be seen above, opens by describing Jo’burg as “a city that has no rules” and goes on to flesh out a story of police corruption and a tourist stuck in a place where the usual structures can no longer be relied upon.
If the most exciting thing you saw in that trailer was the hint of a Blues Brothers-style car chase through a shopping mall, then don’t worry, because you’re not alone. The dialogue isn’t really anything to write home about, and despite the interesting set-up of Walker’s character being drawn into the plot purely by accident, there are an awful lot of clichés here to balance out the creativity (from the estranged spouse-in-danger to the jarringly cheesy lines that don’t quite work: “You know what’s more powerful than a mean bastard with too much power? A man who has nothing to lose!”)
The choice of Paul Walker as a lead makes sense on the face of it. When your film is about a man driving cars around very fast, who better to choose than an actor best known for the Fast and Furious films? No disparagement intended, of course, upon his memorable role as the jerk from She’s All That.
But while the trailer exhibits many shots of Walker convincingly concentrating on not turning his vehicle into a tangled wreck, the emotional range he displays is not particularly evident of any ability to keep an audience emotionally invested in the character for the film’s full running time. However, we could simply be judging Vehicle 19 and Paul Walker prematurely.
What do you think, Screen Rant readers? Will you be watching Vehicle 19 when it hits theaters?
Vehicle 19 doesn’t yet have an official US release date, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have more details.