The movie opens in the elegance of the auction room at an RM Sotheby’s sale in Monaco where, after intense bidding, the final lot of the event, a 1937 Bugatti SC Atlantic, is hammered sold for $41 million.
Fade out to music and the initial run of credits. But soon the movie resumes, though reality fades fast. Two young men — sons of the same man — are on top of a bridge waiting for a transport truck that is coming down the road. As one squeals away in a BMW, the other bungie jumps onto the truck. After some adventure, including gunfire and collisions, the brothers back the Bugatti out of the back of the truck — at speed! — just before the truck rolls over.
At which point they drive the Bugatti — as the cliche goes — as if they’d just stolen it, which they have.
And thus begins Overdrive, a movie full of collector cars and cliches, a movie that brings to mind Gone in 60 Seconds, the Italian Job(s), James Bond chases, and probably the Fast and Furious films, at least for those who have seen any of that most recent film franchise series (which I have not).
Had I been a normal paying customer, I probably would have left the theater maybe 15 or 20 minutes into the film. And while I did pay to see the movie, I went to report about it to you, so I stayed. To my surprise, I’m sort of glad I did.
Oh, it’s not that Overdrive improved as it unfolded. For example, there was an on-foot and on-motorcycle chase through the crowded markets, streets and harbor of Marseilles, with multiple shots fired, but with no one seeming to be struck by any of the bullets.
There also were the usual love interests and double-crosses and kidnappings that are crucial to the success of such action flicks. And while this movie is just beginning its run in American theaters, it reportedly has been well accepted — at least by audiences — in Europe and elsewhere.
Overdrive was written by two Americans whose credits include 3:10 to Yuma and 2 Fast 2 Furious, and was produced in France, and by the producer of Liam Neeson’s Taken, and stars Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott, and Garrett Foster as his half-brother. Also featured is Ana de Armas, a Cuban-born actress who also appears this year in Blade Runner 2049.
Collector car enthusiasts willing to sit through the cliched script and some overacted dialogue, such as when the car-thief brothers gush out loud over the cars, still might enjoy visits to a couple of garages where two men, vying to out-evil each other, keep their stunningly amazing car collections, one featuring a cliche array of collector cars while the other is an all-red, all-Ferrari showcase.
And as a reward for not getting up and leaving as the movie nears its end and cars, including whatever chassis was carrying that Bugatti-like bodywork, are chased by the bad guys and thus driven at high speeds on twisting mountain roads, they also get to enjoy an entertaining pair of plot twists in the movie’s climactic final scenes.
In its review, the Hollywood Reporter said Overdrive was, “Untaxing as drama, thin as entertainment, but modestly enjoyable as a revved-up caper movie, Overdrive is pure escapist fluff with a light French accent. Which still makes it smarter, leaner and cooler than any of the Fast and the Furious films it shamelessly mimics.”
And there’s this from The New York Times: “Overdrive has all the features of a potentially entertaining action B-movie for overgrown boys: gorgeous near-mint vintage cars, rugged male performers, seductive female performers, ravishing European locations. What it doesn’t have is a lot of cinematic adrenaline.”
As I read back over this story before sending it off to Bob Golfen for his edit, I noticed that instead of typing the actual movie title Overdrive, I’d spelled it “Overtdrive. “Typo? I think not.