Overdrive (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

A duo of car thief brothers runs into trouble after making a deal with a local crime boss in the South of France.

Written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas and directed by Antonio Negret, Overdrive is a fun car heist film with exhilarating chases, twists, turns, and beautiful vintage cars.  It takes a few cues from The Fast and the Furious, Gone in 60 Seconds, the Transporter series, etc and makes them all its own.  The use of the car is definitely a plot device, but it works quite well here.  The characters are not particularly deep, but as the film is mostly action car porn, it doesn’t really matter in the end.  What matters is that they are believable enough to take the viewer through the story and its twists and turns while being entertaining and fun to watch.  This film is one of those that is made for the fun of it and not to pass on some kind of grand message, something that is perfectly fine and well done here.

The cast here is appropriate in that they are talented enough to pull off this type of material and all look good, something that seems to be required for car films of late.  In the lead is Scott Eastwood, a charismatic leader, giving a performance that works in terms of leading the group of con artists and thieves and in terms of keeping the audience interested in what is going on when cars are not involved.  Playing his brother from another mother is Freddie Thorp who works well as the second in command who is hungry for more but still wet behind the ears.  Playing Eastwood’s girlfriend and a somewhat strong female character (as in she can take care of herself yet still lets the guys take charge) is Ana de Armas.  She gives a decent performance that makes the viewer wish she had been given more of a main role, one that would give her more agency and more independence.  Rounding out the group is Gaia Weiss as Devin.  She has a fun on screen presence and good chemistry with Thorp, which is pretty much all that’s needed from her unfortunately.  The crime bosses are played by Clemens Schick and Simon Abkarian who play their respective characters with almost glee for being bad guys.  They are bad, they are evil, they are loving it.  This group of characters is varied enough and good enough to take the viewer through the story and showcase the real stars of the film: The cars.

These cars are the central point of the story and the film.  They are an aspect that gives this film something extra, something different from all the other car films that have come out in recent years.  Here the cars are older, collection cars, classics and very hard to find vehicules that must be treated with reverence.  Using these in a film creates an interest in and of itself.  Using them in car chases and stunts makes the film deserve props for taking those chances and planning well enough that none of them look to have been damaged.  The stunts and chases are well planned with some amazing driving being done in fantastic settings.  That last car sequence is absolutely beautiful and puts the viewer right there with the cars.  All the car sequences are shot in ways to give reverence to the cars themselves, to make them the real stars of the film.

The cinematography by Laurent Bares takes full advantage of the location, giving the audience shots that look out of a travel show, showcasing the South of France beautifully.  The way he shoots the cars and their driving/chasing each other is great as it lets the viewer see the cars, where they are, how they are driven.  Bares’ work shows how much planning went into these shots.  The editing by Samuel Danesi and Sophie Fourdrinoy takes these images and puts them together in the perfect way to highlight the location and the cars.  The way the film’s car sequences are edited is almost like a long form publicity for these classic cars.  The work of both cinematography and editing also helps with the rest of the film when cars are not involved, keeping a clear view of everything going on and making everything look great.

Overdrive is light fare, but fun stuff with amazing cars and chases done with classic cars for which it is clear they had to keep all safety in place.  None of the cars look to have been harmed in the making of this film, which car enthusiasts should love.  It’s a fun romp through the South of France with a bit of Fast and Furious, a bit of Transporter, and so many other influences that fans of the car film, or car porn, sub-genre should have a lot of a blast with it.

Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 13th to August 2nd.