Belgian director Jonas Govaerts made the excellent rural horror movie Welp (Cub) while American screenwriter Trent Haaga specialises in ‘things get out of hand’ hothouse tales like Cheap Thrills and 68 Kill – somehow, they’ve got together to make a very Antwerp-specific action/black comedy, shot entirely from the inside of a car (which means we never get to see the vanity plate of the title).
Noah Hazard (Dimitri ‘Vegas’ Thivaios), struggling with the enforced maturity that comes with fatherhood, has promised his long-suffering girlfriend Lea (Jennifer Heylen) he’ll pick up their daughter Zita (Mila Rooms) from school at three-thirty … but, in the meantime, he owes a favour to his loose cannon ex-con cousin Carlos (Jeroen Perceval), a firecracker personality who involves Noah in an escalating series of disasters that begin with picking up Hitler-moustached slob Kludde (Frank Lammers), who smears snacks over the upholstery and has Noah drive out to the suburbs where a stash of drugs are easily stealable. This, of course, means going on the run from better-organised, more dangerous crooks, and doing a lot of damage – not least to the prized Lexus. When Zita is kidnapped, Noah has to track down Carlos to get the drugs he hasn’t used – or dosed his friend with, leading to some bizarre animated hallucinations – to return in exchange for her life. Not only does Noah have to get around a car-unfriendly city but cope with a range of assholes out to make his life more difficult and avoid the cops.
Inside-a-car movies have been done before (Vehicle 19, Locke), but Govaerts is so unrestricted by the setting that it takes a while even to notice that the camera never leaves the vehicle – though the characters do – since we get such a wide range of locations and action effects. Noah even drives into a lift and an underground pedestrian tunnel, then reverses out of it … and a late stage takes the car out onto a ferry, then into the water. Thivaios, a DJ who’s done some acting (a tiny bit in Jurassic World Dominion), is a seething presence, more upset by a stain on the car-seat than the prospect of losing life and limb, and manfully plays it straight, hands clamped to the wheel, as Perceval, Lammers and a parade of other crazies make his life more difficult. A great soundtrack, very specific to the city and the characters’ backgrounds, thrumms along with the car chase/crash sound effects.