Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious) and Freddie Thorp (To Dream) star as legendary car thieves who are caught in the act of stealing from notorious crime boss Jacomo Morier. In order to win back their freedom they're put to the ultimate test – the theft of a priceless car from Morier's sworn enemy. While putting together a crew to pull off the daring heist they're joined by two beautiful women (Ana de Armas, Blade Runner 2049 & Gaia Weiss, The Legend of Hercules) who are more dangerous than they look. The team has one week to put the plan in motion, steal the car, and make their escape or lose everything, including their lives.
"From the writers of 2 Fast 2 Furious"
I have a confession to make. I absolutely love The Fast and the Furious franchise. Its cheesy machismo acting, and over-the-top action hits this adrenalin junkie’s sweet spot. So, you would imagine that a movie like Overdrive would scratch that same itch. Until you look at the poster and see the tagline above like it's something to brag about. It's funny how such a small tagline resets expectations. But with those expectations lowered, I can't say this film goes entirely without merit.
Break out your male hair products guys, because Scott Eastwood and Freddie Thorp as "brothers" Andrew and Garrett Foster are probably the trendiest car thieves on the run you will ever meet. And I put that in air quotes because aside from their affinity for male hair products, nothing about these two bros say brothers to me one bit. To begin with, Scott Eastwood is an all-around American guy, while Thorp has a thick English accent. But as they say in the film, "they are brothers from another mother" and I'm guessing we are supposed to take that literally. But beyond that, these two actors have absolutely zero chemistry. In fact, none of the cast has any chemistry. So, when we are introduced to Andrew’s love interest, Stephanie (Anna De Armas), to say it comes across as phony baloney, that’s an understatement. Which is surprising because we have seen this actress turn in a well-respected performance quite recently in films such as Blade Runner 2049, so it leads me to believe it is the inexperience of our director Antonio Negret which lets these actors down.
While Negret might not be an actor's director, he is a decent action director; everything related to the capers in the film, as well as the high-octane action, seems better than I would have expected. Andrew, Garrett, and Stephanie get tangled up in a complex caper involving several crime bosses and multiple twists and turns. These twists and turns are quite standard, but also pleasing. However, the action set-pieces are actually, quite fun. One that stands out to me is a foot chase that takes place on a dock, where Garrett has to hop from boat to boat to boat to get away from a few thugs. These scenes genuinely feel like they had a bit of thought put into them, and despite the limited budget, they don’t feel cheap.
As long as expectations are tempered, there is a certain amount of fun to be had with Overdrive. Its action scenes are adrenaline-fueled, and the actual heist is serviceable and keeps your attention. But unfortunately, the performances here are, across the board, unforgivably bad. These actors belong in a Calvin Klein ad, not living off the grid stealing cars. In the end, Overdrive is an uneven film, to say the least, and one that will fade into the darkest recesses of your mind faster than it takes Freddie Thorp to style his hair.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Paramount Pictures brings Overdrive to Blu-ray with the standard slipcover to hardcover keepcase. Inside lies a Region A BD-50 Blu-ray with an Ultraviolet Digital Download code. Once we hit play, we are prompted with a few skippable trailers before being brought to our still image main menu that allows us to navigate from there.
Overdrive puts itself into cruise control with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode that, while it doesn’t have any significant flaws, never hits the nose into high gear either. Shot digitally with an Alexa XT in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, detail work is fine without being eye popping in any way. From the hot rod cars, to the cliffsides of France, detail work is good without wowing us in any way. Overdrive is genuinely a bright movie, but black levels seem on point and never intrude on the quality of the image. Clarity is also on the same level as other digitally shot transfers on the market. There is just no wow factor with how this movie was shot. You would think this would be a stylish, flashy film. Unfortunately, there is very little style to be had here and making this seem like a very safe, by-the-numbers affair.
Overdrive rips and roars onto Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that will have you revving your engine in no time. Right off the bat, I was impressed with the effectiveness on display here. Cars whiz across the sound stage with weight and heft. Explosions go off with a thunderous crack that echoes into the surrounds. With a movie that has less than a handful of actual car chases, you want the ones we do get to have an impact. And with a score this robust and dynamic, it definitely fits that bill. The soundtrack here is largely forgettable, with the exception of a club scene where the bass starts bumping as it immerses you into the French nightlife. I was largely impressed here with a mix that took a film that was lacking in any particular style, and gave it that injection of Nos it needed to have an impact.
The Caper (HD 7:17) – A short look at the plot of the film, and the locales they chose to shoot in.
The Crew (HD 7:19) – Wondering about everyone’s place in this crew? This feature deals with just that.
The Cars (HD 3:34) – There are some unique cars in this film. This feature shows us what these cars are, and what they can do.
At first glance, Overdrive is a film that seems like a Fast and Furious knockoff. To make it worse, the performances here would prove you right in that assumption. But beyond that, there is promise here. The caper is not the most inventive, but it does hold your attention. The action seems more grounded than your typical high-octane action, but is surprisingly well staged, and they are never afraid to mix things up. Overdrive is clearly a movie that is actually better than the studio expected it to be, and in return, with just a few tweaks, could be a nice straight-to-Blu-ray series. With a good-looking video transfer, and an even better audio mix, this is a release that would be a nice Friday night Netflix rental, and hopefully in the future will give us just a tad bit more.