Sometimes when the creative decision is made to put a film in one central and somewhat constricting location, challenges present themselves almost immediately. The challenges require the cast to either adapt or to acquiesce. It can either be respected for the effort, or it will come out looking like Carjacked, the 89-minute feature that is supposed to be intriguing because it's a film about someone being abducted via their own automobile.
The film was written by Michael and Sherry Compton, both first-time writers and also executive producers of the film, which John Bonito (The Marine) directed. Maria Bello (Abduction) plays Lorraine, a single mom who was in (at the very least) a psychologically abusive relationship with her ex-husband, and now takes care of her son. On a late night, she stops at a convenience store to gas up and pick up food for her and her son, when Roy (Stephen Dorff, Immortals) gets into the car. We find out that Roy is a bank robber, and he needs to meet up with his partner, grab his money and avoid any police checkpoints. As the carjacking continues, Roy starts to talk to Lorraine in a way familiar to her because her ex had done the same thing, and she begins to find a way to fight back to gain control of both her car and her life.
I'm was initially wondering why it is that a direct to video production like this would have Bello as its lead. She is a capable actress and turned in some good performances before, but in a film whose backdrop is almost entirely in the car, she is not up for the challenge here. She spends most of her time looking scared and fearful, and when she starts to fight back, it becomes an unintentionally comic proposition. Then again, doing anything opposite Dorff could be considered comic. He shows little in the way of a charismatic protagonist, and even when the story tries to elevate him as some sort of badass it doesn't work.
When the performances are uninspired, things are left to the story which barely conveys any sense of urgency or suspense. Roy isn't trying to harm Lorraine or her child, and when she starts to resist, it's almost as the villain has become the prototypical wimpy guy who is in a "don't do it, or else I'll get really mad!" type of mood, but it only really becomes Roy driving to really loud pseudo-Slayer speed metal that is as innocuous as the story seems to be.
The end result is a film in a car with characters that lack any appeal or reason to emotionally invest in them. I guess if the end result was to replicate what it is truly like to be in a car for an hour and a half with two disappointing actors, mission accomplished. But as it stands, Carjacked is a film where everyone involved do not answer the call enough to spend the time to see.
Anchor Bay gives Carjacked an AVC-encoded 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that looks quite good. Image detail is strong and can be spotted in textures on walls, seeing water marks on the hood of a car, and in the closer moments such as the facial hair on Dorff. The film's events are almost entirely in the evening and the black levels are up to the challenge, maintaining a deep and consistent appearance, and in lighter moments the colors look natural (such as on a schoolbus) without being overly vibrant. The disc looked much better than I was expecting.
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround for the feature, and it is not a bad presentation. Dialogue is consistent through the center channel, and there is low-end fidelity present in moments when needed (like the revving of a car engine, which is kinda predominant here). There are also hints of channel panning and directional effects, all of which are handled as well as can be expected. All in all the lossless track is worthwhile sound material for the production.
Save for a behind-the-scene piece that include on-set footage and little else (amounting to a music video), nothing to speak of on the disc.
Carjacked appears to combine the premise of using The Burning Bed story and putting it into a crappy late model sedan a la The Hitcher, and the cast and story reflect this mix of derivation and weariness, putting not much of an effort to even make the film a guilty pleasure to watch. Technically the film is pretty to look at and is par for the course in the sound area, and on the bonus material side of things it barely registers a blip. If it comes on cable anytime soon it may be worth a peek, but you are better off ignoring it.