Director: Antonio Negret
Cast: Scott Eastwood, Freddie Thorp, Ana De Armas, Gaia Weiss
Runtime: 1 hr 36 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Opening Day: 29 June 2017
Synopsis: Andrew and Garrett Foster are not only exceptional drivers but also known for being the best car thieves in the world. In Marseille, they steal the local mafia boss Jacomo Morier’s jewel, a rare and priceless Bugatti 1937. Morier decides to use their talents in his profit and against his long-time enemy, Max Klemp. But if they accept to enter this game, they actually have devised a much more daring plan Travel to the French Riviera in search of new challenges (both in the bedroom and on the road), but who find themselves in the crosshairs of the local crime bosses and their rare and priceless car collections.
To its credit, ‘Overdrive’ never does try to be a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie; instead, it draws its inspiration from heist thrillers like ‘The Italian Job’, ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ and even the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ series to deliver decent escapist fun within a brisk 96 minutes.
The prize here is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, owned by local mob boss Max Klemp (Fabian Wolfrom), which half-brothers Andrew (Scott Eastwood) and Garrett Foster (Freddie Thorp) offer to steal for another mob boss Jacomo Morier (Simon Abkarian) as trade for their lives. Andrew and Scott had earlier on stolen Morier’s 1937 Bugatti right after the man had paid $41 million euros for it at a Sotheby’s auction, and Morier had agreed to the exchange only because Klemp is his longtime business arch-rival. Besides Andrew and Garrett, the crew consists of Andrew’s gorgeous soon-to-be fiancé Stephanie (Ana de Armas), Stephanie’s serial pickpocket friend Devin (Gaia Weiss), demolitions expert Leon (Joshua Fitoussi) and a bevy of other nameless professional drivers. The plan is textbook masquerade – roll up to Max’s sprawling residence pretending to be GIGN on a raid, then drive the car away after Leon has fled from the compound.
As you can probably expect, there are more than a few complications along the way. Mourier sends a distant cousin Laurent (Abraham Belaga) to join in the mission, in order to make sure that the Foster brothers carry through their end of the bargain. Two Interpol officers pop up midway through their planning preparations, threatening to keep a close watch on Andrew and Garrett. Stephanie is kidnapped the day before they are scheduled to execute the heist, intended as Mourier’s further leverage against Andrew. Screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas also throw in a web of shifting alliances to keep us guessing. Is Andrew and Garrett working for Mourier or Klemp? Whose side is Laurent on? What about Stephanie and Devin? There are surprisingly more twists and turns to the plotting than we’d expected, and for the most part, these are satisfactorily resolved by the time the engines cool and the credits roll.
Not surprisingly, with so much going on amidst the car chase sequences we will get to below, there isn’t much attention paid to character dynamics. One of the earlier scenes has Andrew telling Garrett that he wants their life of crime no more, content instead to settle down with Stephanie after this job is done, to which Garrett responds with indignation. Yet their potential falling out never quite develops into anything substantial; instead, the relationship between Andrew and Garrett continues to be defined no deeper than the playful jibes they take at each other. Ditto that between Andrew and Stephanie, which stays stuck at the former being overprotective of the latter. Perhaps the only relationship that sees some progress over the course of the movie is that between Garrett and Devin, who find themselves unable to resist the other and end up falling in love and in bed with each other.
But frankly, our low expectations heading into the movie were still pleasantly exceeded with an unexpectedly knotty plot as well as the exciting setpieces: the first which sees Andrew and Garrett steal the Bagutti from a moving truck; the second which has them pursued by Mourier’s men along the streets of Marseille; and the last which puts them in vintage cars engaged in a high-speed chase along the French Riviera. Though he is credited only as producer, Pierre Morel’s handprints are unmistakeable, emphasising practical stunts over CGI and medium to wide shots in order to keep the action real, palpable and discernible (yes, Morel is the director of the very first ‘Taken’, before his fellow French compadre ruined it all with ‘Bourne’-style jerky-cam). Such is the stuff that the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies were borne out of, and the pedal-to-metal action is choreographed and executed here with flair, imagination and sheer white-knuckle suspense.
To be sure, ‘Overdrive’ never rises above its B-movie trappings, but director Antonio Negret harbours no such ambition from start to finish. Rather, he knows his audience is here to see cars chasing each other – and on that count alone, he succeeds admirably, inserting enough narrative amidst the action to keep you engaged throughout. You’ll need to set your expectations right in order to enjoy this one, but if you, like us, expected no more than a string of thrilling French-set action sequences, then you’ll find that there is more than enough juice here in the can to make your adrenaline go into overdrive.
(A couple of well-choreographed, exciting chase sequences and some unexpected narrative twists and turns make this heist thriller enough escapist fun)
Review by Gabriel Chong