Before Vin Diesel and company were launching cars into space and fighting submarines, the Fast & Furious series was all about street racing. It was a breath of fresh air to see a series highlighting such a community. However, as the series kept on moving, the core of the story disengaged from the street racing community to become more of a spy thriller. There’s nothing wrong with that, a long-running series needs to evolve and adapt in order to maintain its relevance, but the street racing aspect of the series was sacrificed in the process.
Here comes Pedal To Metal, a new Netflix TV show produced in Mexico that tries to highlight the street racing community once again. The results are mixed, but even with all of its faults, the show walks that fine line between the cliché and the original, keeping things entertaining enough for the audience to invest themselves in this story.
Pedal to Metal is a drama TV show starring Benny Emmanuel, Renata Vaca, and Andrés Delgado. The show tells the story of Kike and his best friend Noche, as they need to escape their city and return to Monterrey, where they meet Abigail, and they find their way back into the illegal world of street racing.
From the get go, it is clear that Pedal To Metal is taking a lot of inspiration not only from the Fast & Furious series of movies but also from the soap opera TV culture. A culture that is really strong in Latin America. Both of these elements fuse together to make it stand on its own. However, for members of the audience who are familiar with both of these narratives, the conventions might seem too strict and familiar. At points, Pedal to Metal is so predictable that it feels as if we are seeing the show for the second time instead of the first time.
Novelty can be overrated at times. Execution really matters when it comes to taking an idea and bringing it to life on screen. Nevertheless, having fresh new ideas will always make for an exciting watch. Pedal To Metal doesn’t have new ideas, as it dwells in the familiar territory of the search for redemption and family feuds that go as far back as Romeo and Juliet.
The core trio of characters does a good job moving the story forward, and at least two of the main characters, Noche and Abigail, end up being quite interesting, making their plot lines the best ones on the show. This leaves Kike, the main character, in an awkward spot, though. Kike is supposed to be the anchor of the show and the one character audiences need to root for.
However, it could be that Emmanuel is being badly directed or that the actor just doesn’t have what it takes, but Kike is just a boring protagonist. Kike plays the characters with stoicism, but there’s nothing of the hidden intensity that makes classic Stoic characters resonate. It is a shame because this perception hurts both the actor and the show in equal measure.
Renata Vaca and her character, Abigail, quickly became the show’s highlights. Abigail is not a boring character at all; she is driven, active in every aspect, and the conflict that ensues between the things she wants to do is quite fascinating. Towards the end, it would have been a better choice to make her the protagonist. It would have been a hundred times more entertaining than Kike’s arc, but also because she would be an out-of-the-box main character thanks to her goals and personality.
From a technical point of view, the show is shot in this shaky cam style that appears to be looking for a sense of intensity and rawness. Which is fine, but the visual style also crawls its way into calmer and more intimate moments, and it comes across as forced. In general, the production values are good enough for the story that the show is trying to tell, but you won’t find amazing visuals or gorgeous cinematography here.
The soundtrack is also an important part of the show. The music drives most of the scenes, and in general, the chosen tracks do their job very well. Some might say that the soundtrack falls too much into the Latino American music cliché, as if people from that territory would only listen to reggaeton 24/7, but the songs fit the story without a doubt.
Pedal to Metal has a lot of potentials. Let’s hope that the show can discover who its real main character is, as it moves along in future seasons, and also that the show should strive to find a better set of main villains. The ones in this season are so far away from the main characters that everything feels disconnected, and the stakes are lowered a bit too much as a result.