Plenty of expensive cars were harmed during the making of Collide, a low-octane crime thriller in which the most compelling characters aren’t the ones with two legs, but those with four wheels.
This collection of chases and shootouts, staged with minimal urgency and only moderate visual flair, charges through exotic European locales while taking itself far too seriously.
The action begins with an American tourist named Casey (Nicholas Hoult) striking up a romance with Juliette (Felicity Jones) after they meet at a rave in Germany. He’s smitten to the point that after promising to clean up his past filled with petty crime, Casey is lured back into his unscrupulous past when Juliette experiences a medical emergency and can’t afford a life-saving procedure.
He agrees to a job transporting drug shipments for a gangster (Ben Kingsley) to make some quick cash. When the scheme goes awry, he becomes a target for a ruthless rival (Anthony Hopkins) of his boss.
Most of the film features Casey on the run from nondescript bad guys in various vehicles, incorporating gratuitous use of slow-motion and a pulsating techno soundtrack for emphasis. Yet while weaving in and out of traffic in an SUV to a chorus of squeaking tires and revving engines might provide some thrills for gearheads, it hardly qualifies as a classic cinematic car chase.
Plus, the film’s central romance lacks conviction, which really doesn’t matter because any plot developments — along with the abundant brooding and macho posturing — function merely to set up a barrage of far-fetched action sequences.
Although it develops some mild intrigue once it gets into gear, the screenplay by Scott Frazier (XXX: Return of Xander Cage) and director Eran Creevy (Welcome to the Punch) isn’t much concerned with character depth or narrative logic. The storytelling is pedestrian and predictable, without enough stylish set pieces to compensate.
The film wastes the talents of some actors who have done much better work elsewhere. Among the two Oscar winners, at least Kingsley chews the scenery in amusing fashion, growling through a German accent while sporting some awesome retro shades.
However, despite some impressive stunt work, Collide doesn’t achieve the desired adrenaline rush.
Rated PG-13, 98 minutes.