Movie Review – Overdrive (2017)

Principal Cast : Scott Eastwood, Freddie Thorp, Ana de Armas, Gaia Weiss, Clemens Schick, Joshua Fitoussi, Kaaris, Simon Abkarian, Abraham Pelaga, Anais Pedri, Lester Makedonsky.
Synopsis: Two car thief brothers, who journey to the south of France for new opportunities, wind up in the cross hairs of the local crime boss.


When I switched this one on and the name Pierre Morel came up, I expected at least a certain level of quality from the man who gave us Taken. Sadly, Morel serves only as a producer here, with noted television helmer Antonio Negret taking the reins behind the camera and delivering… well, a bit of a snooze-fest, if I’m honest. Overdrive is a Marseille, France-set Fast & Furious clone that is far less fast and a semi-truck load less furious, as Scott Eastwood (who, as chance would have it, would appear in the Stateside franchise himself in Fate Of The Furious the very same year), an up-and-coming Ana de Armas, and a gaggle of lesser names float about the South of France pretending to be high-octane car thieves, with clunky action sequences and asinine character beats the order of the day. Throw in some Euro-trash villains and a load of less-than-expensive locations in and around the port city of Marseille, and you have a recipe for the B’est of B-movies in quite some time.

Eastwood plays Andrew Foster, half brother to co-criminal Garret (Freddie Thorp), who have relocated to the southern areas of France to steal luxury cars from wealthy people, only to run afoul of local crime boss Jacomo Morier (Simon Abkarian), who orders them, to pay him back for costs, to steal luxury vehicles from the garage competing crime lord Max Klemp (Clemens Schick). With mounting pressure to deliver a result, Andrew and Garret, together with Andrew’s girlfriend Stephanie (Ana de Armas) and a friendly neighbourhood pickpocket, Devin (Gaia Weiss), they take on the competing criminal organisations with nothing but grit, pluck and the ability to drive cars really well.

Overdrive is blatantly stupid and obviously designed to cash in on the Fast & Furious franchise’s slick production design and absurd plot conceits, only here the production is hamstrung by woefully inept scripting, laughable direction and a substantially smaller budget. There’s a lot wrong with Overdrive, not the least is getting Scott Eastwood – a solid potential action leading man if ever there was one – to appear in this dreck, to say nothing of Ana de Armas’ dreadful line delivery and Freddie Thorp’s incredibly punchable face; for a film with few positives, at least the brief glimpses of French Mediterranean life will satisfy those who long to travel there. The production’s budget is obvious from the jump, with an illogical and preposterous car heist from the back of the world’s least protected rich-man’s truck, before a series of backalleys, docks and riverbank conversations, and one particularly splendid “luxury home”, provide the backdrop for this supposed high stakes operation. At least the luxury cars, around which the film’s plot revolves, are something to behold, and I daresay had the producers sinking a fair amount of the budget to procure.

I mentioned Taken early on, and I kinda wanted Overdrive to veer away from the Fast & Furious shenanigans and give me something grittier, more urban, similar to the Liam Neeson kidnap thriller; given Pierre Morel’s association with the film one might have thought Negret and his production team would lean into their locations a lot heavier than they do, and although some of the car street chases and action sequences do contain a frenetic French energy they’re undercut by terrible writing, horrible editing and an rejection of respect for the audience. I get it, they were trying to make a fun Italian Job-esque heist film with a couple of nice double-cross moments that will have the audience second-guessing themselves (heck, I second guessed my choice to watch this damn thing about twenty minutes in) but the film’s humour is misplaced, ill-timed or absent entirely, and the sense of playful gravity-defying entertainment of the Fast & Furious franchise can’t be captured by this film’s sub-$20m budget. Overdrive is simply inert, a lot of hoo-hah over old cars worth a squillion dollars and, I’m sorry, I don’t think anyone really cares if the principal heroes – Eastwood and Thorp – are characters lacking any real thematic depth. Eastwood tries his best, and there’s a sense that a lot of background material for the various characters was either cut from the script or cut from the film in the edit, but nothing clicks here. The magic just doesn’t work.

Overdrive is a silly, time-wasting teen-boy piece of nonsense, something that’ll appeal to kids who love fast cars and get off on cool movie posters. Sure, Overdrive’s poster and marketing material vastly oversell just how exciting this one is, although watching a tranche of henchmen and bad guys get their comeuppance is always fun so I guess why not, eh? The flirting with the French aesthetic is cool enough, the cars themselves look great, and it’s fun to see Eastwood trying to establish himself in the action genre, but Overdrive is a misfire. If you can avoid it, please do.

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