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Vehicle 19

2013 | 85 min | R | 2.39:1

Vehicle 19


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 14 June, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from Vehicle 19 Blu-ray

Vehicle 19 Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 13, 2013

I’ll give star Paul Walker this much credit: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. After blistering the box office with the powerhouse sequel “Fast & Furious 6,” Walker remains behind the wheel for “Vehicle 19,” another picture that requires an intense range of grimaces in tight close-up while a professional movie stunt team makes a mess of city blocks and fellow automobiles. Low-tech and initially diverting, the feature soon rides on dramatically bald tires with Walker in the lead role, unable to squeeze out the necessary anguish to communicate the wrong place, wrong time feel of the script, often caught slack-jawed and staring when the moment demands raw emotion.

Fresh out of a prison stint and ready to repair matters with his estranged wife, Michael (Paul Walker) travels to Johannesburg, South Africa to greet his loved one at her embassy day job. Mistakenly issued a minivan at the airport rental car lot when he requested a sedan, Michael decides to skip the return and deal with the ride, short on time before his suspicious wife cuts him off for good. Unfortunately for Michael, his day goes from bad to worse when he discovers a cell phone in the glove box and a gun underneath the seat, fielding calls from a crooked cop desperate to retrieve the minivan. Eager to rid himself of trouble, Michael initially complies, only to find Rachel (Naima McLean) bound and gagged in the trunk. A lawyer holding crucial evidence tying local law enforcement to a sex trafficking ring, Rachel has been marked for death, with Michael and his skills of evasion her only chance for survival.

The goal of “Vehicle 19” is to induce claustrophobia. Outside of some introductory business and demolition derby antics, the film rarely leaves the interior of the minivan, instead using tight, pore-counting cinematography to study the agony of Michael’s cursed afternoon. The viewer becomes intimate with Walker’s facial features, finding writer/director Mukunda Michael Dewil holding steady on his leading man, trusting him to convey the character’s confusion with the rental car revelation and frustration with his predicament, with the manipulative antagonist threatening to ruin Michael’s taste of freedom with a threat of more prison time. There’s also personal obstacles to overcome, including a history of alcoholism, with little airplane booze bottles on Michael’s to-do list during the long, map-twirling drive to the embassy. Discomfort with his wife joins the party as well, meeting a woman who doesn’t trust her husband’s pure intentions, finding the tourist trying to juggle cell phone communications with his fed-up love and the demands of his faceless aggressors, not to mention the arrival of Rachel and her most urgent information.

While comfortable with the bullet points of distress, Walker doesn’t have the range required to keep “Vehicle 19” as riveting as Dewil would like it to be. He’s a stiff, unconvincing actor, showing difficulty with the one-man-band aspect of the endeavor, content to indicate instead of burn, working to whip up screen motion when more subtle surges of Michael’s mental breakdown are necessary to appreciate the quagmire. Walker does have the benefit of unusual Johannesburg locations to keep attention away from all the awkward pauses, and MacLean shows welcome spitfire in a crucial role, cracking a window with her charm and credible communication of concern, taking some of the pressure off Walker.

There’s really not much to the “Vehicle 19” viewing experience. We watch Michael evade pursuers with fast-thinking and quick wheels, deal uncomfortably with a mess of a situation that threatens to derail an already tenuous life, and quest to reach the proper authorities with Rachel’s information -- a mission complicated by the villain’s legal presence in the city. Dewil puts his faith in smash-em-up car chases, zipping through South African streets and, at one point, plowing inside a convenience store to add some flavor to the hot wheeled routine. The violence is diverting, as are morsels of location life, including a scene where Michael barters with local thugs for a crude spray paint job on the minivan. Even with a few surprises, “Vehicle 19” is largely formulaic and underwhelming, and while its brevity is appreciated (running only 80 minutes), a convincing human element is sorely missed throughout the adventure. Walker has the grunting and wheel-spinning down pat, but his time with internalization leaves the movie blank.

Starring: Paul Walker, Naima McLean, Gys de Villiers
Director: Mukunda Michael Dewil

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Vehicle 19, Forum Discussions

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Vehicle 19 (2013) - Paul Walker 11 Apr 01, 2013

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