22nd Dec2017

‘Overdrive’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Scott Eastwood, Ana de Armas, Freddie Thorp, Gaia Weiss, Simon Abkarian | Written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas | Directed by Antonio Negret

overdrive-blu-cover

Andrew and Garrett Foster (Scott Eastwood and Freddie Thorp) are not only exceptional drivers but are also known for being the best car thieves in the world. In Marseille, they steal a rare and priceless Bugatti 1937 from the local mafia boss Jacomo Morier (Simon Abkarian). In exchange for their lives Morier decides to use their talents for his own profit and to get back at his arch rival. Whilst seemingly agreeing to work with Morier the brothers have actually devised a much more daring plan…

Gone in Sixty Seconds meets 2 Fast 2 Furious… that’s probably the best way to describe Overdrive, a French production from Taken director Pierre Morel that feels like a Luc Besson take on THAT supercar franchise (before it became all about The Rock and Vin Diesel going head-to-head to see who’s the franchise star), packed with references to other car-based action movies/franchises such as Bullitt and The French Connection.

Overdrive has an interesting pedigree. Helmed by Antonio Negret, who has most-recently carved out a career on US television directing shows like Arrow, Lethal Weapon and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, but who also directed a very similar “car” flick in 2012′s action/thriller Transit; and written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas – who not only penned 2 Fast 2 Furious but also episodes of every TV show with “Chicago” in the title you can think of(!); the film is essentially a mix of every action movie, car chase cliche in the book. Something which, given said pedigree you might not expect – after all Negret also directed the fantastic horror Seconds Apart and Brandt and Haas’ TV work on Chicago Fire et al. has been stellar…

So why then another “dumb but fun” franchise wannabe? To be fair, and credit to Maryann Johanson for pointing this out in her review, it’s probably because Overdrive consists of either unused edits from the 2 Fast 2 Furous script or… as I’s posit, the film was developed from a rejected script from Brandt and Haas for a third movie in that franchise! After all, it features the same off-the-cuff “witty” (please note the sarcasm) one-liners that Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce spouted through that film, and the bad guys (yes bad guys, plural), seem to be carbon copies of Cole Hauser’s Carter Verone. Hell, the film even has “cops” working with the gang on their improbable mission!

Yet for all it’s flaws, cliches and stereotypes, there’s something so incredibly charming about Overdrive that you can’t help fall for its cast, its storytelling and the ridiculously over the top nature of its stunt work. Speaking of which – kudos to Negret and co. for staging a superb collapsing bridge stunt that is the highlight of the film and is one of the best car-based stunt scenes (sans over the top CGI of the Fast & Furious franchise) of recent memory. Eastwood and Thorp are a great pairing, both playing off each other well – they really do feel like “brothers”, with the same playful banter and one-upmanship/argumentative attitudes that only come from being family. The rest of the cast are pretty much interchangeable, with only the villainous Simon Abkarian having any real impact on the audience.

If you enjoyed films like the aforementioned Gone in Sixty Seconds remake or the pre-Dwayne Johnson iterations of Fast & Furious, then there’s a lot to love about Overdrive – which is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Entertainment in Video.

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