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
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.