Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
So you have a few bucks to spend on a movie featuring a guy driving a car real fast, and obviously you want somebody from the 'Fast and the Furious' franchise to head up this movie of yours.  Sorry, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson are busy.  Sorry, Ludarcris and Tyrese are on tour.  My apologies but Sun Kang, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez can't make it to South Africa that week.  Paul Walker's available though.  Not only is he available, he'll also executive produce for you.  Now stop complaining because he is arguably the best looking member of the entire franchise and his eyes are super blue.  It will be okay.  Watching this movie called 'Vehicle 19' featuring Paul Walker driving a minivan for 90 minutes.  How could that concept not succeed?

Michael Woods (Walker) has recently been released from prison and he wants to make things right with his girl Angela (Leyla Haidarian) so he catches the redeye to Johannesburg to hammer out the details.  Now I don't know much about the American Justice System, since I've never been caught up in its insidious web, thank goodness, but can a recently released felon get a passport that easy?  Just curious.

But alas, be it JFK, O'Hare, or Johannesburg International, they F up your rental car no matter which corner of the globe you deplane at and they f'd up Michaels rental.  Instead of the sweet sedan he ordered, he got a lousy minivan.  He was thinking about turning it in, but he decided to tough it out.  Bad move Mike, bad move.

So Mike is driving though the rough and tumble streets of Johannesburg, looking at a map trying to make it to see his girl.  Apparently GPS is illegal in South Africa.  If Mike had a GPS, 90% of the problems he ran into in this movie could've been avoided.  Mike calls his girl to let her know he's stuck in traffic and will be late.  She doesn't believe him, thinking he found a liquor store or
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something.  It was all Mike could do to find the ignition in the rental so to think he could track down a liquor store is absurd, and I'm wondering why Mike is so desperate to be with this angry shrew.

Then the weird stuff starts to happen, like when Mike finds the cell phone which starts ringing, which he, like an idiot, answers.  Then he finds the gun under the seat, which he, like an idiot, handles.  Then he finds that bounded attractive Black woman in the trunk, who he, like an idiot, talks to.  Obviously, attractive tied up and gagged Black women tumbling out of minivan trunks isn't a normal thing, even in South Africa, but this one has a story to tell.  Apparently she is Rachel Shabangu (Naima McClean) and she is some kind of prosecutor who has some dirt on some very important people, and these important people want her dead.  Rachel needs Michael 'to do the right thing'.  Mike doesn't know what to do.  So they just drive around town doing much of nothing. 

Eventually, the sinister voice on the other end of the phone line paints Michael into a corner, leaving him only to do one thing.  The right thing.  Which basically involves him driving around town some more in the minivan. 

Truth be told, director Makunda Michael Dewil's 'Vehicle 19' isn't nearly as suspect as I have made it sound.  In fact the first thirty to forty five minutes of it are fairly engaging, even though the film is consistently stupid pretty much from start to finish.  This movie is actually fueled by the character of Michael's rampant stupidity.  So while the setup is implausible, it is well presented.  I like a good conspiracy as much as anybody, and I enjoyed the way Dewil painted his conspiracy in this one, I also liked the setup and the way the early part of the movie was developing.  Just about the time you got tired of looking at Paul Walker and his super blue eyes whine, they dropped actress Naima McLean on us, along with some choice action and here we are working with serviceable thriller. 

Eventually, however, McLean has to leave us and this is where 'Vehicle 19' started to stall.  At this point the director turned the movie over to Mr. Walker and his super blues, and just sitting around forced to emote simply isn't one of Paul Walker's strengths as an actor and now this movie is kind of dragging itself along.  Combined with a believability factor that was already stretched to the breaking point, at this point we are now trapped just waiting for the eventual resolution. 

They tell you to always inspect the car before driving it off the rental lot, and maybe a quick once over would've revealed a bound and gagged woman.  You can mark that off right that on the sheet.  Cell phone in your car, take it right back to the rental company.  Loaded gun in your car, take it right back to the rental company.  Bound woman in your car, good luck with that one.  And if the bad people's ultimate goal was to kill this woman, why kidnap her, bound and put her in a rental car?  I'm no master criminal, but I thinking the logical path would be kidnap-murder-dump body.   But what the hell do I know?

Again, 'Vehicle 19' started out well but eventually ran out of gas.  And we are out of lame broken car metaphors.
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