The Wrong Car (Review)
The Wrong Car
aka Black Car
Written and directed by John Stimpson
Lifetime has a long history of films explaining in graphic detail how the internet will kill you, and The Wrong Car delivers with Uber being the latest target. Not that Uber doesn’t deserve a bit of criticism, ignoring their treating their drivers like garbage, Uber has had a multitude of safety issues in the US and other countries (such as India) involving rapes and sexual assault, and The Wrong Car rips from the headlines these stories. Instead of Uber, the app is called NetCar, and our heroine is assaulted before she joins the ranks of the NetCar drivers in order to track down her attacker. It’s also a Bring It On: All or Nothing mini-reunion with Danielle Savre and Francia Raisa (sorry no Hayden Panettiere or Solange Knowles, but who needs them?) as the main characters, and Savre’s intense performance as Trudy O’Donnell carries the movie.
Trudy is too busy studying law to do anything except study, especially since she’s trying to avoid moping over her ex. You know, I can’t tell you how many of these movies involve characters in law school who are too busy studying to have a relationship, and then immediately hit a nightmare scenario scary enough to keep you from dating forever. Trudy’s roomie Gretchen Healy (Francia Raisa) declares they are going to go out and basically drags her along.
Trudy also drops a bunch of philosophical stuff about the penal system and justice showing she is an optimist while society is more about revenge, which will of course change when she gets rapecarred and threads the needle between bringing the perpetrators to justice or maybe going Death Wish on the villains.
Trudy leaves the club early and orders a NetCar, but the driver has spiked the water bottles with drugs, and Trudy wakes up nude in a random hotel with a killer hangover and vague memories of being assaulted (and scary images of a giant baby head!) Trudy does the whole rape exam thing, which is something rarely portrayed on these shows (I can only remember Law & Order: SVU doing the whole thing once) They even work in our national shame that the rape kits will take several weeks to get back results, if they are lucky (or aren’t in a city/state with years-long backlogs!) Even worse, the driver wasn’t a real NetCar driver, it was a fake that just scooped her up! Oddly enough, after this movie was filmed, a real life example appears involving Kevin Smith’s daughter, Harley Smith,, who thankfully avoided getting into the car.
Because so few rape cases get prosecuted and there are no leads, Trudy decides to take matters into her own hands and learn to drive a NetCar herself, getting her dorky admirer Charles (Kevin G. Cox) to help learn her. Trudy then starts lecturing random passengers about being careful, and meets a nice guy passenger Donovan (Jackson Davis) who is so totally suspicious that it is crazy. Trudy also becomes more victim’s rights in class, and becomes increasingly paranoid because she gave the rapist driver her home address instead of a nearby cross-street, and is worried he will come back.
Trudy then has an adventure that seems increasingly crazy, two gangbanger guys (Walley Walkker and Jesse Gabbard) get in the card and start hitting on her. She threatens to kick them out, but they threaten a bad customer rating over her head (again, an actual issue Uber drivers face!), then they have a debate about objectifying women, but the understanding quickly ends when there is a phone call and they pull a gun on her, forcing her to end the ride and give them five stars. They then make her drive to pick up their friend who was shot, and take him to a doctor who doesn’t talk to the cops. And they are appreciative of her efforts and promise they owe her one. Hm…
Trudy stalks the clubs and finds a suspicious card that isn’t in the NetCar app, and lo and behold it picks up a lone girl tipsy from the club and goes to the same motel Trudy woke up at. And the driver is Donovan! Dun dun dun! She calls the police, but they find nothing in the room, and Donovan later takes the woman home when the cops leave. Trudy talks to her the next morning, the lady is confused but doesn’t think she was assaulted, so that’s good at least. Had Trudy bothered to use her cell phone to film any of this there would be a tiny bit of evidence, but there is nothing and Donovan threatens to press charges over an illegal search of the hotel, and is now free to harass Trudy at home! He even chokes her and tells her to leave him alone, or else! Dun dun DUN!!!
So Trudy will use Gretchen as bait! Can we just pause for a second to marvel at this plan? Trudy and Gretchen must be very good friends in order for Gretchen to volunteer to be possibly raped (or maybe she just feels guilty since she convinced Trudy to go out in the first place!) Basically, putting a friend in danger makes the whole final act a different flavor, because the issue isn’t Trudy in danger, it’s Trudy might have possibly put her friend in a situation where she is raped or worse. Things get even more Lifetime with the reveal at the end, and even includes a stinger about how little time a rapist will spend in prison.
Overall, The Wrong Car was good fun, because it went totally off script from what I expected would happen as the plot progressed. The main complaint is the big reveal was underwhelming and expected, largely due to the dearth of characters. Some of the plot points such as Trudy randomly getting into fights with her passengers as she was understandably barely holding on and using the motivation to find the rapist drive her when she needed to be seeking emotional support through either a support group of therapist. Of course, then we wouldn’t have a movie, and the film would have to give us the sad reality of most rapists getting away with what they did. Even with that, the way things wrap up provide a bunch of holes that a good defense attorney could probably poke into the case, though the resulting media attention from a trial like this would make up for some of it.
It was the point where the gangster guys get into the car where the film became something I couldn’t take my eyes off of, as The Wrong Car managed to provide first a debate about respecting women followed immediately by something that you’d see only in an anonymous confession thread on the internet. The whole thing just got so beyond a usual movie and then combined with the bait friend plan to bust the villain it made an amazing watch. Highly recommended for Lifetime fans, and even those who enjoy the occasional Lifetime flick should add The Wrong Car to your watchlist!
Rated 8/10 (that logo again, drugged, cop, bribed motel guy, law professor, almost a victim, Apps: The Movie!, fake apps are the best apps)
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