Paul Walker remains behind the steering wheel, but this action thriller has a whiff of the arthouse about it, simply by being set in South Africa. The plot is as preposterous as Taken, which it resembles in many ways. But there is some guilty pleasure to be had in the way events unfurl for this particular American abroad. And the big climax is satisfyingly ridiculous.
It opens at the Johannesburg airport, where the recently paroled Michael (Walker) arrives on the way to visit his ex Angelica (Haidarian). But the rental agency gives him the wrong car, and when he gets stuck in a traffic jam he starts exploring it, discovering first a phone, then a gun and then a bound-and-gagged women behind the back seat. She turns out to be Rachel (McLean), a kidnapped lawyer caught between dirty cops and even dirtier politicians. And as everyone begins to chase Michael around the city, he gets deeper and deeper into the mess.
Michael is on edge from the beginning, exhausted after the gruelling flight and distracted by thoughts of Angelica. And we soon learn that he has broken parole to leave America, risking everything for this reunion with her. The script reveals its secrets along the way, although the main thing we realise is that writer-director Dewil is doing whatever he wants, sending Michael on a nightmarish odyssey that's more than a little contrived. And Walker is fine in the role of a rather uncomplicated guy who knows how to deal with these kinds of shady situations.
All of this is shot and edited with considerable skill, which helps us suspend our nagging disbelief. Almost every scene takes place inside the car, although there are plenty of action chase sequences as well as an observation of the hazards of life on the mean streets of South Africa, complete with urchin thieves, carjackers and kidnappers. Nothing makes any real sense, things explode for no reason and the culture of corruption is never remotely dealt with. But Walker and McLean provide some jaggedly entertaining interaction along the way. And Dewil maintains a deranged wit as he sends his characters screeching through the streets.
Run time: 85 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 7th February 2013
Distributed by: Arc Entertainment
Production compaines: Forefront Media Group, The Safran Company, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, K5 International, Skyline Motion Picture Fund, Efish Entertainment, Picture Tree
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 20
IMDB: 4.9 / 10
Director: Mukunda Michael Dewil
Producer: Ryan Haidarian, Peter Safran
Screenwriter: Mukunda Michael Dewil
Starring: Paul Walker as Michael Woods, Naima McLean as Rachel Shabangu, Gys de Villiers as Detective Smith, Leyla Haidarian as Angelica Moore, Tshepo Maseko as Lieutenant, Andrian Mazive as Journalist Benji, Welile Nzuza as Mohawk, Mangaliso Ngema as Judge, Ernest Kubayi as Crackhead, Elize Van Niekerk as Car Rental Receptionist, Sizo Motsoko as Car charger Kid 1, Siviwe Mazibuko as Car charger Kid 2, Brandon Lindsay as Hostage Reporter, Paul Pieterse as Bicyclist, Ben Tjibe as Muscles
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