With a one-way-street plot and characters as sophisticated as an oil change, Gallic car-chaser "Go Fast" keeps the pedal to the metal as it tries to race past its numerous flaws.

With a one-way-street plot and characters as sophisticated as an oil change, Gallic car-chaser “Go Fast” keeps the pedal to the metal as it tries to race past its numerous flaws. B-grade tale of a vengeful cop — played by a buffed-up Roschdy Zem — who infiltrates a band of high-speeding drug smugglers features plenty of impressive Formula 1-level driving but forgets to slow down so auds will actually give a hoot. Pic has coasted through its Oct. 1 local release to a comfy 500,000 admissions, but looks unlikely to have enough gas to cross the Pond.

Based on an idea by real-life police captain/co-writer Jean-Marc Souvira, the story takes a much more gung-ho, cop-friendly approach to the genre than recent French policiers “MR 73″ or “Le petit lieutenant.”

Opening reels provide plenty of rapid, low-key action as viewers are introduced to undercover agent Marek (Zem) and his field boss, Jean-Do Paoli (Olivier Gourmet). When a stakeout goes sour, Paoli gets offed in the crossfire, and Marek is transferred to a new unit that will allow him to hunt his boss’ killers.

After intensive physical and psychological reconditioning (filmed at an actual police training facility), Marek infiltrates a rowdy bunch of speed demons who earn quick cash steering cars full of drugs from Malaga to Paris. Shifting locations to a Moroccan marijuana farm, a Spanish drug lord’s hideaway and, in its final half-hour, the highways connecting Spain and France, pic becomes a pure adrenaline affair of cars and narcotics.

Director Olivier Van Hoofstadt (Belgian comedy “Dikkenek”) offers up lots of well-crafted driving sequences that will be pure eye-candy to anyone who enjoys Audi or Saab commercials. Auds looking for less of a ride and more of a script will be disappointed by pic’s latter half, which features several additional characters who are given as much development, and lines, as a team of crash-test dummies.

Zem gives a convincingly stoical perf considering the limited material he has to work with. Slick, expensive-looking tech package features sharp widescreen lensing by Jean-Francois Hensgens. Alexandre Azaria’s score is filled with bass-heavy beats that are perfect for cruising.

Go Fast

France

Production

A EuropaCorp Distribution release of an Avalanche Prods., EuropaCorp production, in association with Sofica EuropaCorp, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema. (International sales: EuropaCorp, Paris.) Produced by Emmanuel Prevost. Directed by Olivier Van Hoofstadt. Screenplay, Bibi Naceri, Jean-Marc Souvira, Emmanuel Prevost, based on an idea by Souvira.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jean-Francois Hensgens; editor, Sophie Fourdrinoy; music, Alexandre Azaria; production designer, Florian Sanson; costume designer, Monic Parelle; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Christian Monheim, Yves Renard, Philippe Baudhuin, assistant director, Gil Kenny; casting, Swan Pham. Reviewed at Gaumont Champs Elysees Marignan 5, Paris, Oct. 13, 2008. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Roschdy Zem, Olivier Gourmet, Jil Milan, Xavier Maly, Catalina Denis, Jean-Michel Fete.
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