Running Time: 85 mins
Certificate – 15
Reviewer: David Gillespie – Official HCF Artist
If the slogan for this action thriller from director Mukunda Michael Dewil is familiar to you then don’t go expecting any surprises cropping up within the subsequent 85 minutes of this lean, silly but entertaining beer movie. Ken doll, look-a-like, Paul Walker stars as the parole breaking hero who is in the ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Car…Wrong Film’. This is almost like a warm up gig for the upcoming Fast & Furious 6.
Set in South Africa, it follows the journey of recovering alcoholic, jailbird and mentally challenged Michael Woods (Paul Walker) as he obtains the wrong hire vehicle in an airport car park but ignores the pleas from the irritating rental assistant that she will change it for him. His goal is to be with his long suffering girlfriend called Angie (Leyla Haidarian) and everything will get in his way as he proceeds to reach her. Michael finds a revolver in the glove compartment and a beaten and tied woman (Naima McLean) in the boot. It soon becomes apparent to the driver that he is in way over his head, as the people who planted the gun and the cargo want it back. Soon the couple are being chased all around Johannesburg by the bad guys with their only chance of staying alive relying on exposing the conspiracy that is hell bent on keeping them quiet for good.
Vehicle 19 is a routine thriller with the novelty factor of setting action within a vehicle (similar to 2012’s Cosmopolis) and setting the surprisingly exciting car chase sequences within the dusty streets (and malls) of Johannesburg. The running time is wisely trimmed to a bare minimum and the pace does not let up for a second.
The main problem with the film is the one dimensional, lead Paul Walker. In the Fast and Furious films his screen time was split by several other B-listed actors and actresses. Walker is present throughout and he may have the looks but he does not have the charisma. His attempts at panic and fear are feeble and are made all the more laughable when compared to the strong performance by McLean as his passenger. In no more than an extended cameo she steals every scene that she appears in.
To its credit, the film does possess a moronic charm. From the offset it becomes clear that Walker’s character should and would exit the hire vehicle and jump into the nearest bus or taxi. We are meant to buy into the fact that his character could be so stupid that he would choose to stay put and deliver the cargo for the shady voice on the other end of his mobile phone. The threadbare plot is just an excuse for Dewil to devise a series of noisy and carnage laden chase sequences. There is no denying that this is where the director’s talent lies with several blistering set pieces and explosive stunts. Vehicle 19 is a daft but satisfying straight to video funride that will compliment a ropey curry and a cheap six pack. Just don’t go expecting another Ronin.