The preposterous South African B-movie, Vehicle 19, returns Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker to what he does best – playing characters behind the wheel. Set almost entirely inside a moving car, this low-budget action thriller clearly disproves Jean-Luc Godard’s theory that a good movie only requires a guy, a girl and a gun. Despite the film’s fast pace and need for speed, the script, overwhelmed by implausibilities and clichés, is filled with nothing more than loud car noises, chases, gun fights and wooden characters. Imagine a poor man’s Phone Booth and Brake set inside a minivan.
Looking beyond Vehicle 19’s awful shaky camerawork and its poor cinematography, Paul Walker plays Michael, an American who visits Johannesburg to see his ex-wife. He catches an unlucky break when he is given the wrong rental-car at the airport. The car, which holds a lawyer taken hostage, belongs to a group of criminals and corrupt cops who go through great lengths to get it back. Michael is caught in the middle of the cat-and-mouse game and is forced to fight his way out of trouble.
Writer-director Mukunda Michael Dewil mistakenly believes that Walker’s star power will automatically deliver a big hit. Unfortunately, in an attempt to rev up the pace with action sequences, he forgets the most common filmmaking laws. Audiences are made to suffer through endless clichés;
- Sudden acceleration of a car (be it forwards, backwards, stopping, skidding, sliding, or whatever) causes a loud skid, even on dirt or wet roads.
- Cars chasing each other in the middle of a city will not suffer enough damage to stop the chase.
- Pedestrians in Hollywood have the world’s best reactions, so don’t worry if you have to drive down a sidewalk. Mr Pappodopolus is quite used to having his fruit cart smashed, and despite his gesticulations and curses, he always manages to get out of the way in time.
- A car will always explode when shot at, unless the hero is driving it.
- When you drive a car, you can always recognize all the persons you know that pass you in the opposite direction.
- After a car crash, no movie character ever sits and shakes for five minutes, or becomes incoherent with shock.
- People being chased by a car will keep running down the middle of the road instead of ducking in somewhere where a car cannot go.
- There are no stop signs in movie land. Wherever you have to drive, no matter how close or far away it is, you never have to stop before you get there.
- Film cars never start the first time when you’re running away from the bad guy.
- Police cars involved in chase scenes usually tend to suffer more than any other vehicles- they have head on collisions, smash parked cars, fall into water, and of course, experience the ever popular flying-roll, causing the car to land upside down and crush the lights and siren. Usually, we never get to see the unlucky police force member before or after the inevitable accident.
- No one ever runs out of gas (even in long car chases). Corollary: every stolen car has a full gas tank and gets great gas mileage.
- Heroes can go without food or sleep, with no measurable drop in physical or mental faculties, for at least 72 hours.
- When a hero is paired with a weak sidekick, that sidekick will invariably save the hero’s life at a crucial moment, or show remarkable proficiency with weapons in a key scene.
- If the hero is a white male and has an assistant/sidekick who is either not white or not male the assistant/sidekick will die, preferably in an act of heroic sacrifice.
- If the movie hero has a sidekick and he mentions his family in the first two minutes of the film, the sidekick will surely be killed.
- The movie hero is (almost) always divorced, but he still has some contact with his ex-wife who tells him that she could not stay married to him because she loves him too much.
There’s really not much to the Vehicle 19 viewing experience. You’ll be scratching you head while watching Michael evade cops and criminals with fast-thinking and quick wheels. Just awful!