2017’s Fantasia Film Festival runs July 13th through August 2nd.
The Fast & Furious franchise is currently in a downward slide after reaching the pinnacle of pop perfection with Fast Five, but that hasn’t stopped the last few from making serious coin. More power to them, but in an ideal world some of that audience goodwill would spillover to much smaller but similarly goofy action pictures featuring fast cars, flashy locales, and… Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious)?
Andrew (Eastwood) and Garrett (Freddie Thorp) are half-brothers who share more than a single parent — they also share a love of expensive automobiles. That love extends beyond simply admiring them from afar though as they also have a bad habit of stealing them for personal satisfaction and the odd paycheck. Their latest score has the unintentional outcome of landing them in debt with a powerful mobster in the south of France, and as payback he tasks them with an even more elaborate theft. It’s a bigger heist than they’re used to though so the siblings build a team including their lady friends (Ana de Armas, Gaia Weiss) and a few other helping hands. Can they pull it off bad guys, cops, and more bad guys hot on their tail?
The Fast & Furious reference above may be a bit of a reach seeing as Eastwood is only a supporting player in the most recent entry, but Overdrive‘s genre elements are the same as a family — a more consistently pale family — come together to steal things from bad people. Director Antonio Negret and writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas deliver a stripped down take on its much bigger screen cousin, and the results are every bit as entertaining.
Brandt and Haas are no strangers to goofy action as the writers of 2 Fast 2 Furious and Wanted, but the risk here is that the film lacks the budget for big spectacle-like set-pieces that normally serve to distract viewers from script silliness. [cough] Fast & Furious films [cough] That challenge pays off though by being paired with Negret who manages some slick action — almost all of which is done practically — and views that never bore the senses. The landscapes, exorbitantly-priced automobiles, and certain cast members are gorgeous, and cinematographer Laurent Bares captures it all along with some exciting and impressive car chases.
Eastwood hasn’t had the most thrilling career so far as his plain acting style continually makes him the least interesting thing onscreen, but he succeeds a bit more here with a performance that feels as if he’s not performing at all. That’s not a dig… he’s just incredibly relaxed and casual and never feels like he’s trying, and it works for the tone of the film. It’s an endlessly casual film, one where the good guys are never really in danger and everyone’s laughing mere moments after the bad guys’ demise. Thorp is a weak spot, due more to his dialogue than his performance, but everyone else is fine and having fun. de Armas seems at first to be stuck with a thankless “girlfriend” role, but her thankfully character gets to shine as someone every bit as capable and confident as the boys.
The inherent silliness and lightweight feel of it all keep Overdrive from achieving more than simply being a “fun enough” ride, but some solid sleight of hand in the third act, attractive visuals, and impressive car action make for an enjoyable piece of entertainment. The 93 minute run-time doesn’t hurt either.
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