Movie Review: ‘Overdrive’ a Cut-Rate Car Flick from the Luc Besson Factory

Movie Review: ‘Overdrive’ a Cut-Rate Car Flick from the Luc Besson Factory

Scott Eastwood and Freddie Thorp play a pair of half-brothers separated by the Atlantic who unite to serve their life’s purpose as Marseilles car thieves in the action-thriller Overdrive, a piece light-light-lightweight fluff that feels like someone left a Fast & Furious film in neutral.

There’s surprisingly little action here, but the movie kicks off with a bang as Andrew (Eastwood) bungees onto the back of a truck driving at top speed down the highway, Garrett (Thorp) tries to slow it down by slamming his car into the front, and the brothers attempt to make off with it’s haul: a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 that sold at auction for $41 million.

It’s a sequence that contains exactly what the filmmakers are going for with this movie: we don’t care about these characters, but the ‘37 Bugatti is in peril throughout, and we’re on the edge of our seats worrying about it getting a scratch. 

Yes, the cars are the real stars here. There are two separate five-minute sequences in which the film’s villains (rival gangsters played by Clemens Schick and Simon Abkarian) open their garages and the two brothers name every car inside.

The camera slowly pans over each and every vehicle while Eastwood and Thorp rattle off the years, engines, and top speeds, and the vehicles rev up on the soundtrack like sharks roaring in the ocean. I’m no gearhead, but admittedly, these classic cars look pretty slick.

Unfortunately, we only see them in the garage until the film’s final heist sequence. And that one’s a real dud: we can sense the filmmakers are nervous about placing these automobiles in any kind of real danger, so they crawl along in wide shots and the only threats are obvious additions via post-production CGI.

Plot: Abkarian’s character, the owner of the ‘37 Bugatti, catches the brothers and forces them to steal his rival’s prized 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO within a week. That’s it.

Cuban actress Ana de Armas, who played Miles Teller’s wife in War Dogs and also features in the new Blade Runner sequel, stars as the Eastwood character’s girlfriend and accomplice; French actress Gaia Weiss plays her street-thief friend.

With the two male stars behind the wheel for much of the running time, the women get a surprisingly large amount of screentime moving the plot forward - and ultimately upstage their male counterparts.

Eastwood (son of Clint) doesn’t have his father’s screen presence, but he does have the rugged appeal of say, a Chris Evans. Unfortunately, he gets little to do here in the lead here, after being handed a similarly thankless role in the most recent Fast & Furious flick earlier this year.

While Luc Besson doesn’t have his name attached to this film, Overdrive has his fingerprints all over it: an English-language, French-set international production in the vein of Taken or From Paris with Love (Pierre Morel, who directed those features, is credited as producer here), it’s another formulaic romp straight from his factory.

Director Antonio Negret was previously responsible for a pair of effective thrillers (Seconds Apart and Transit) but this one is strictly assembly-line stuff, and especially light on the thrills.

Still, if you want to pass the time by gawking at some classic cars and lovely Marseilles scenery, you could do a lot worse.

Overdrive is opening in the Czech Republic and other territories before receiving a US release date. That's usually a bad sign, though Taken opened through the same route and achieved widespread success - something likely to elude this movie.

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