Vehicle 19 had an interesting filmmaking concept in taking the viewer inside the van but instead of making for a suspenseful little flick, it’s one that seemingly meanders and gets downright dull in spite of a relatively short running time. I’d like to say Paul Walker was a saving grace but that’d be a lie as he only shows one expression and has a couple scenes that would even rank low in his career. Plain and simple, this is a movie one can skip.
Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Drama
Ketchup Entertainment | R – 85 min. – $24.99 | July 23, 2013
Directed by: Mukunda Michael Dewil
Writer(s): Mukunda Michael Dewil (written by)
Cast: Paul Walker, Naima McLean
Theatrical Release Date: June 14, 2013
Features: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 21.3 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot.
“He picked the wrong car. They picked the wrong guy.”
Based on that tagline, one would think this was yet another car-thriller from Jason Statham. But apparently Statham was busy filming The Expendables 8 so producers called upon the third best choice for the car chaser, behind Statham and Vin Diesel… Paul Walker. Now, to be fair, given Walker received a producing credit, this was some sort of passion project, either way, Vehicle 19 had an interesting yet unfulfilling concept, that is the entirety of the movie takes place inside the car.
The story centers on Michael Woods (PAUL WALKER) who has just arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa to meet up with his estranged girlfriend and wants nothing more than to settle down, prove to her he is sober and stay out of trouble especially since his request for parole was denied. Michael has barely set foot when troubles apparently find him. First he receives the wrong car from the rental agency, a van instead of a sedan, and he finds a cell phone in the glove box and a gun, equipped with a silencer, underneath the seat.
Oh, but things get even worse when, during a big bump, a woman (NAIMA MCLEAN) comes tossing out from the trunk into the back seat, bound and gagged. When she comes to, she viciously attacks Michael thinking he’s going to kill her, but after some back and forth, she reveals she is a prosecutor who was investigating the chief of police in a sex trafficking ring. He also has been getting phone calls from said chief of police, who has eyes and ears everywhere in the corrupt system, and knows everything about Michael. He instructs Michael to drive the van to an abandoned warehouse to which Michael, for some dumb reason, agrees as he wants nothing to do with the situation. Surprise, surprise, upon their arrival, they’re attacked and the chase is on to escape.
It’s up to Michael to escape the authorities, as the prosecutor is killed during one chase, while also protecting his girl as she is a target by the police, though luckily she works for the U.S. embassy and seeks shelter inside. Basically, for the remainder of the movie you get some chase sequences, with a mix bag of stunt work, Michael makes his way through the dank Johannesburg streets — and trust me, this movie is no travelogue for the city — trying to get the story out before it’s too late.
Here’s one of the bigger problems, plot wise, about Vehicle 19: so, if this prosecutor is such a danger to this police chief, and as she tells it, was grabbed when she got home the night before, then why in the world didn’t they just kill her then? Why go through the trouble of tying her up and leaving her in the trunk of a rental car? It makes no sense and is obviously was done to propel the already thin story into gear… so to speak.
The other big issue, even more so than the plot, is for a thriller with chases and such, it’s just not that interesting. Sure, the concept of a movie taking place inside a car is interesting but instead of taking the confinement of the van and using it to set up tension, instead makes for a lackluster and downright boring story.
It also doesn’t help matters when you combine writer/director Mukunda Michael Dewit marking his first big, albeit still independently financed, project and a star in Paul Walker whose body of work has been lacking. Even in the Fast and Furious franchise where acting skills are hardly taxed against template (but fun) scripts, Walker has not been impressive and there are a few moments where he attempts to emote but it comes across has one of the horrid scenes you see in a movie within a movie and as a joke. It’s that bad.
Inept direction and a concept squandered by a lackluster and illogical screenplay, Vehicle 19 had potential to be at least a passable thriller but instead is yet another bad movie in plethora of bad movies that have come and gone. It’s not a good sign when the poster/cover artwork makes it look generic. No doubt, this is a movie one should skip.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.25/5
The only bonus materials are a standard behind-the-scenes featurette (12:34; HD) and the theatrical trailer (2:15; HD).
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Vehicle 19 revs onto Blu-ray courtesy of Ketchup Entertainment and although some scenes did look fine with some decent detail levels, there are other parts that show off the independent nature of the film. Some shots show off a fair amount of noise specs which gives the film an almost splotchy vibe. Still, the orange and teal tone, which I know some people despise, comes across well enough.
AUDIO – 3.0/5
On the more disappointing front, the disc includes a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which is terribly soft and in many instances, it was quite difficult to understand what was being said with soft spoken dialogue. However, even the more action-oriented scenes didn’t come across very well either, only showing slight signs of life here and there, but it’s wildly inconsistent.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, Vehicle 19 had an interesting filmmaking concept in taking the viewer inside the van but instead of making for a suspenseful little flick, it’s one that seemingly meanders and gets downright dull in spite of a relatively short running time. I’d like to say Paul Walker was a saving grace but that’d be a lie as he only shows one expression and has a couple scenes that would even rank low in his career. Plain and simple, this is a movie one can skip. The Blu-ray offered here isn’t anything special with a standard video transfer and a lossless audio track that is lacking. The bonus material also isn’t anything to write home about.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.