Taxi Driver (1976) Poster

(1976)

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10/10
Disturbing, powerful, relevant, important
andrew717 November 1999
Warning: Spoilers
A towering classic of American cinematic power. Martin Scorsese teams up with one of the most intense actors of that time to create a masterpiece of urban alienation. Paul Schrader's magnificent script paints a portrait of loneliness in the largest city of the world. Travis never once enters into a meaningful relationship with any character anywhere in the film. He is the most hopelessly alone person I've ever encountered on film.

He is alone with his thoughts, and his thoughts are dark ones. The film fools you on a first viewing. Is Travis an endearing eccentric? Sure, he's odd, but he's so polite, and he's got a quirky sense of humor. His affection for Betsy is actually rather endearing. But on a second view, you see it for what it is. The audience comes to see Travis's psychosis gradually, but there's actually far less development than one might think. When he talks about cleaning up the city, the repeat viewer knows he doesn't mean some sort of Giuliani-facelift. This is less a film about a character in development as it is a kind of snapshot. To be sure, it takes the stimulus to provoke the response, but does that imply some kind of central change in the character?

Tremendous supporting roles are brought to life through vivid performances by Keitel and Foster especially. Shepard's character, Betsy, is little more than a foil to highlight Travis's utter alienation from society, but she is still impeccably portrayed. With only two scenes that don't center on Travis, it is unavoidably De Niro's show. The life with which the supporting cast imbues their characters is a credit to themselves, and to the director's willingness to let the film develop from the intersection of diverse ideas and approaches. What would the plot lose by eliminating the Albert Brooks character (Tom)? Nothing at all. He makes almost no impact on Travis's life, which is where the plot lives. But his inclusion makes the film as a whole much richer and fuller.

As a piece of American cinema history, this film will live forever. But far more important than that, this film will survive as a universal, ever-relevant examination of the workings of the alienated mind. The story doesn't end when the credits roll. We know Travis will snap again. But the story doesn't end with Travis either. It continues today in the cities and in the schools. The film is about the brutal power of the disaffected mind.

This film didn't cause the incidents in Colombine, or Hawaii, or Seattle, or wherever you care to look, even with all of its disturbing images of violence. It didn't cause those things. It predicted them.
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10/10
Diary of a madman
francheval13 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The script of "Taxi Driver" is built like a diary, the diary of a very ordinary guy who gets hired as a night taxi driver back from Vietnam, because he can't sleep at night. A very ordinary guy who tries to break his isolation, but can't, while violence accumulates inside him. One of those unnoticed people with dark things on their mind, one of those who break up the news one day with some extraordinary outburst of rage, to fall back immediately into anonymity.

The gradual transformation of man into beast in this movie is chilling. It's still funny and pathetic when the hero threatens himself in front of the mirror ("you're talking to me?"), but when he comes out with a mohawk hairdo and dark glasses, it is obvious that nasty stuff is going to take place. As in "A Clockwork Orange", violence is recuperated by society depending on what purpose it is used for. Whereas he was about to murder the candidate for presidency, "god's lonely man" fails and instead kills a vicious pimp who exploits teenage prostitutes. The potential criminal becomes a hero for a day.

Such stories happen everywhere of course, but it seems that the bewildering atmosphere of New York City's summer night was the best choice. "Taxi Driver" gives us a very realistic approach of New York, in a way that is not seen on screen so often, at least not anymore, whilst that city is probably the one in the world that has been filmed the biggest number of times.

Most of the movie takes place at night. The credits open on the blazing lights of the yellow taxi cab moving slowly in the dark rainy streets. A kaleidoscope of neonlight appears through the dripping windows as the driver's eyes blink in the front mirror. The night is the hero's universe, it's the time when "all the animals come out", as he says. By contrast, the few daylight scenes look somewhat off-key, but this was definitely intentional.

The final scene still appears today as extremely violent, but at least, it shows murder for what it is. Brutal, ugly, crude. It is something one tends to forget about after seeing so many police series where people get shot so often that it gets casual. Real violence is not casual when you face it, and here is a film that makes you face it.

The directing is first class and deservedly made path for Scorsese as a world renowned artist. Some techniques he used here are unusual for American cinema, like focusing on details for a few seconds. The movie is enhanced by an excellent music soundtrack by jazz composer Bernard Herrman who died before the picture was even released.

Two of the actors also deservedly made it to stardom. Robert de Niro plays a very unglamorous character, but his presence on screen is so intense that it's no wonder it made such an impression. As for Jodie Foster, she already appeared in films as a child, but playing a teenage prostitute was certainly not an easy challenge, and probably it was that role that really turned her into a major actress.

"Taxi Driver" was a big hit when it came out, both for the public and the critics. It won the Palme d'Or in Cannes, and served as a trend setter for many later films, like for instance Quentin Tarantino's and Abel Ferrara's. But even today, the original model seems difficult to emulate, probably because achieving a masterpiece is a rare thing, by definition.
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A wonderfully engaging and convincing slide into a modern madness from a director and actor showing some of their best form
bob the moo13 February 2006
Travis Bickle is a Vietnam veteran who cannot sleep at night and just ends up travelling around. To try and use the time effectively he becomes a taxi driver. Things start to look up for him as he works nights and slowly starts to live a little bit. He meets a girl, Betsy, and arranges to see her a few times despite the fact that he is a little bit out of the ordinary – a quality that seems to interest her. His connection to the night allows him to see young prostitute Iris being bullied by her pimp Matthew and he begins to see his role to perhaps save her – him playing his part in cleaning up the sewer that he feels New York has become. However when his view of normal life puts Betsy off him he starts to retreat more and more into the night, looking for meaning in his life and growing more and more outraged by the world he is part of.

Hardly the most uplifting of films it is engaging and impressive and truly deserves the reputation it has. Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader have produced a film that convincingly portrays a man cut out of society who has the slightest connection to normality before finding it eroded away. The script is brilliant because the detail is engaging but it is this descent into a very modern type of madness that drives the film forward. Travis has just enough about him that is recognisable that it makes it so easy to go along with the rest of his madness. A major part of this is getting the feeling right about living in a cesspit; a city that seems to have forgotten its way morally – New York is the strongest example but elements of it could be parts of any city I suspect. In painting this world in such a real way, Scorsese has made Travis all the more convincing and, to a point, all the easier to follow in his fall. Like I said it is not a film to morally uplift you but one that is depressingly fair. There is no redemption in this modern world and although it appears that the violence at the end somehow redeems Travis in reality by showing "society" accepting his action it drags the rest of us down nearer the world that he hates and has become part of. I love King of Comedy for the same reason albeit in a different world.

Scorsese injects a real understanding of the place and a real sense of foreboding into even the earliest scenes. He inserts clever and meaningful shots into scenes that other directors might just have filmed straight and his choice of scene and shot compliments the script is depicting Travis descending into madness. What makes the film even better is De Niro showing the type of form that makes his recent form such a major disappointment. He is outstanding as he moves Travis from being relatively normal to being eaten up from the inside out. His eventual implosion is impressive but it is only as impressive as the gradual slide he depicts over the course of the film. Although he dominates it, others impress as well. Foster stands out in a small role, while Keitel makes a good impression as the pimp. Shepherd is not quite as good but her character was not as well written as the others so it isn't all down to her. Regardless, the film belongs to De Niro and although the quotable scenes are the ones that are remembered it is in the quieter moments where he excels and shows genuine talent and understanding.

Overall an impressive and morally depressing film that deserves its place in cinematic history. The portrayal of a city and a man slipping into moral insanity is convincing and engaging and it shows how well to "do" modern madness and the effects of the moral void of parts of society. Scorsese directs as a master despite this being at an early stage in his career and De Niro is chillingly effective as he simply dominates the film in quiet moments and quotable moments alike. I rarely use phrases like "modern classic" because I think they are lazy but this is one film that certainly deserves such a label.
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10/10
Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Robert De Niro!
Smells_Like_Cheese20 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Taxi Driver, the classic that made Robert DeNiro Robert DeNiro. It's amazing to see how far this man has come in cinema, some of my friends ask me questions about films and advice, one of my friends had asked if they wanted to see where Bobby got the big notice I usually recommend Taxi Driver, granted he was in The Godfather Part 2 and was incredible, but Taxi Driver made him stand out as a strong lead actor. Taxi Driver is just all together a great film that is absolutely perfection. Martin Scorcesse who also was just really starting out made this movie that brought us back to the film noir genre. He made this great classic and I don't even think he realized how much it would stand against the test of time, to this day we still know this film and even if you don't know it, you know the infamous speech "You talking' to me?". This is a film about isolation, loneliness, and self destruction at it's worst.

Travis Bickle who claims to be an honorably discharged Marine it is implied that he is a Vietnam veteran is a lonely and depressed young man of 26. He settles in Manhattan, where he becomes a night time taxi driver due to chronic insomnia. Bickle spends his restless days in seedy porn theaters and works 12 or 14 hour shifts during the evening and night time hours carrying passengers among all five boroughs of New York City. Bickle becomes interested in Betsy, a campaign volunteer for New York Senator Charles Palantine. She is initially intrigued by Bickle and agrees to a date with him after he flirts with her over coffee and sympathizes with her own apparent loneliness. On their date, however, Bickle is clueless about how to treat a woman and thinks it would be a good idea to take her to a sex film. Offended, she leaves him and takes a taxi home alone. The next day he tries to reconcile with Betsy, phoning her and sending her flowers, but all of his attempts are in vain. Rejected and depressed, Bickle's thoughts begin to turn violent. Disgusted by the petty street crime that he witnesses while driving through the city, he now finds a focus for his frustration and begins a program of intense physical training. He buys a number of pistols from an illegal dealer and practices a menacing speech in the mirror, while pulling out a pistol that he attached to a home-made sliding action holster on his right arm "You talking' to me?". Bickle is revolted by what he considers the moral decay around him. One night while on shift, Iris, a 12-year-old child prostitute, gets in his cab, attempting to escape her pimp. Shocked by the occurrence, Bickle fails to drive off and the pimp, Sport, reaches the cab. Later seeing Iris on the street he pays for her time, although he does not have sex with her and instead tries to convince her to leave this way of life behind. But after her rejection as well, Travis decides to take things into his own hands, "Pow!".

This is one of the most memorable movies of all time and has really stood it's ground. It's personally one of my favorites and made me fall in love with Robert DeNiro all over again. The script to Taxi Driver is just so incredibly powerful and the performances were just perfect. Jodie Foster, this little girl at the time was such a presence on screen, she pulls in what was a very tricky performance and was hauntingly beautiful. Cybill Sheppard was also very beautiful and I was absolutely in love with her character and felt so bad for her. Everything about Taxi Driver is just great, I don't know how much I could go on about the love I have for this film. It's a film that you will never forget and trust me, if you haven't seen it, go out and rent it immediately, you won't regret it. It's bloody, it's twisted, it's crazy, but it's one of the best films of all time.

10/10
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A story about a lonely man
david_vigues16 May 2004
Taxi Driver is one of the best films ever made. This is one of those films that you do not get tired of seeing and every time you watch it you realize a little detail that you have not seen before. Excellent actors, a good director, an impressive soundtrack and a real story are the main appeals of this film.

This film is about loneliness, about the isolation of a man in a society full of scum. His objective is to finish with the scum of the streets. The story uses a taxi driver as a metaphor of loneliness and it has some kind of irony because we can see that a city which is full of people can be the most lonely place for a man. The long nights in the city, the night environment full of whores, junkies, pimps and thieves are the main elements of the world in which Travis Bickle lives. Travis is an misunderstood guy who is seeking desperately for some kind of company because as he says 'loneliness has followed me all my life, everywhere' but at the same time he seems not to do anything to avoid his situation and it is seen when he goes with Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) to a porn cinema. At the end of the film the character makes real his most violent fantasies, with a look of certain soldiers from Vietnam, and he behaves like this because of his loneliness, his alienation and because he does not find any sense to his life. The violent behaviour becomes Travis into a hero, although he had killed many people and he could do it again. Although he acts with an extreme violence the spectator understand him and the reasons why he acts that way. The soundtrack of the film, which is composed by Bernard Herrmann, inspires some kind of loneliness and sometimes it is absolutely terrifying like in a horror film. This music and the slow camera showing the streets help to introduce the spectator into the world of Travis, to know what he is thinking about.

In general I cannot say any negative aspect of this film because I have not found anything bad. Although it is a film of the 70s it is not an old-fashioned movie because the essence of the story, the reality that is shown on it, can be perfectly referred to the current society. This film has the privilege of having made famous the sentence ‘You talking' to me? You talking' to me?' which will remain in the history of cinema. This is an authentic masterpiece.
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An Enigmatic Masterpiece
JosefSerf4 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
If a picture is worth a thousand words then this movie (moving picture) is worth a million words, which is why it has probably generated at least a million words.

What can one say. The obvious: that "Taxi Driver" is great, it is. That it is a masterpiece, it is. What sets this film apart from so many other films, including great films, is that it is an enigma. Every time I watch this film I see something else, I notice something else, I feel something else, I wonder something else. And I am, clearly, not the only one who reacts to the film this way that is why it lends itself to endless speculation and discussion.

Since so many positive reviews have been made, rather than add my own red hot glowing review I thought I would address those people who have written that they don't like "Taxi Driver" because, they say, they find it dull and boring, hard to follow, etc. These people miss some important points about the film.

ONE, "Taxi Driver" is NOT an action film. If you want an action film watch "Die Hard" and its numerous sequels, or "Lethal Weapon" and its sequels, not to mention "Rambo" and thousands of other "action flicks." Nothing wrong with them, per se. Nothing wrong with liking them either. But is wrong to put down "Taxi Driver" because of what it is not.

TWO, "Taxi Driver" is about loneliness and loneliness is characterized by an almost crushing boredom and emptiness and Travis Bickle's character reflects that. His life is dull and boring, hardly anything happens to him and that is what "Taxi Driver" shows - Bickle's pathetic life.

THREE, some people say that they don't understand the plot, Bickle's attitudes and behaviour, etc. But that is because "Taxi Driver" is about a man who is profoundly emotionally disturbed although he (and his buddies) don't seem to know it. His actions aren't rational because he isn't rational. His actions make no sense because he makes no sense. Offhand, I can't think of any other film that has depicted mental illness as well as "Taxi Driver" and no film that attempts to show the world as seen by someone like Travis Bickle.

There you go: three reasons to address the most common criticisms of the film with one notable exception, its controversial ending, but THAT is a whole topic in itself which is just more proof of why "Taxi Driver" is so worthwhile - when viewers aren't sure what actually happens in the end (Is Travis hallucinating as he is dying? Is that what the slow moving overhead tracking shot suggests? Or does he really become a hero in the media and get realeased back into the world with his buddies? Etc, etc.) The questions and issues raised by "Taxi Driver" just go one and on.

Now if after reading the above you still don't think "Taxi Driver" is a great film, I can't help you. I am NOT saying you have to like (or love) "Taxi Driver" just appreciate it or at least acknowledge its greatness even if it isn't your cup of tea. Actually, I don't love "Taxi Driver" because it doesn't lend itself to love. It is too disturbing a picture precisely because it is way too close to reality, it cuts too close to the bone for my comfort (or rather, discomfort). It is not comfortable to watch because it isn't supposed to be. So if "Taxi Driver" makes you feel uncomfortable and uneasy it should because real life is uncomfortable and uneasy (unless you are born rich or something).

Finally, after watching it again for the nth time I have begun to notice (and feel) just how smooth "Taxi Driver" is. The overall feel and flow of the film is incredibly smooth in which not only each scene but each and every movement and gesture flows into the other imperceptibly. Sometimes I play back scences and sequences over and over to catch how it happens. In fact, I see it happening and still can't quite figure out how it is done but I have a hunch - DeNiro. DeNiro is just amazing in this film. If you haven't done it already, watch it with the remote in your hand and play some of the scenes in slow motion and you will SEE what I am talking about. Only DeNiro could do what he does. The sheer minimalism of his performance is just stunning. How he gets so much from so little never ceases to amaze me. DeNiro's performance in "Taxi Driver" only reminds me of what sports announcer Curt Gowdy exclaimed after one of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson's incredible plays in the 1970 World Series,"This guy is another world!"
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10/10
A Shattering Tale In First Person Singular
willandthomas-picturehou11 October 2007
The impact that "Taxi Driver" had in its day hasn't diminished, on the contrary, it has acquired a relevance of Shakesperean proportions. Travis's loneliness is a hyper representation of the same loneliness most humans have experienced at different times in different measures. It is always associated with a nightmare and Martin Scorsese delivers it like a nightmare. Travis, possessed by Robert De Niro at the zenith of his powers, cruises in his taxi enveloped in Bernard Herrman and we, well, we're the passengers and everything looks terrifying and familiar at the same time. Paul Schrader sensational screenplay comes to life with the jolting force of a rude awakening. Like it happens, more often than not, with masterpieces, it signed in a rather direct way the lives of the ones who live it in a movie theater and the ones who made it. Scorsese being the giant that he is, survived it and will continue startling us I'm sure but I also bet that for years everything he did was compared to this movie. De Niro and his "You looking at me" became such an iconic phrase that even he himself ended up impersonating it. Jodie Foster awoke the insane devotion of a real life would be killer and New York, the greatest city in the world was shown with its underbelly up. A work of art, a superlative reminder of what film could actually give us and very rarely does.
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10/10
Excellent
lost-in-limbo30 October 2004
A lonely Vietnam veteran who has insomnia spends his nights as a taxi driver in the dirty streets of New York, where he encounters a young prostitute who he tries to help make a difference.

This is a very good film and one of Martin Scorsese best (Goodfellas being my fave). An excellent portrayal from Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle the cabbie and good performances from Jodie Foster as the child prostitute Iris Steensman, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle and Harvey Keitel as a pimp called Sport.

You actually get drawn into the isolation and anger that Travis is feeling towards these lowlifes and because of that you really feel sympathy for him. Though after a while the loneliness and the city really starts to haunt Travis's mind, causing violent instincts and paranoia.

This film is filled with such memorable lines e.g.Travis Bickle 'You talking to me? Well I'm the only one here.' and the many powerful scenes that stay in your head after it's finished. The hypnotic cinematography is a standout, as if your seeing the harsh & gritty New York streets and twisted people through the eyes of Travis when he is driving his cab. A great screenplay, a stunning score by Bernard Herrmann and a superb atmosphere created.

This is a brutally compelling and bleak look at a decaying and corrupt society of the 70's. An unsettling gem of a film.

5/5
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10/10
Scorsese's dark masterpiece of urban alienation
TomC-52 November 1999
Despite what some might see as limited by technical flaws and/or as an overly simplistic plot, Taxi Driver deserves its critical reputation as a cinematic masterpiece. Some 23 years later, the existential plight of Travis Bickle, "God's lonely man," continues to pack a hard emotional punch. In fact, it's hard to know where to begin when praising the elements of this film - such elements as the dark location shots of a (now gone) seedy Times Square, the cinema verite settings of the cabbies and campaign workers, the magnificent Bernard Hermann score, Paul Schrader's fine script, the memorable performances of Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Peter Boyle all must be mentioned. However, the brilliance of this film is primarily a result of the brilliance of De Niro and Scorsese, one of the greatest actor-director teams in movie history. This is an unforgettable film and rates a 10 out of 10, in my estimation.
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9/10
A Descent Into Madness
DaveDiggler25 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Taxi Driver" starts off with a beautiful and perfectly fitting score from composer, Bernard Hermann, as we see the blurred city of New York as the fast paced lights from cars and signs are distorted and put into slow motion. "Taxi Driver" is one of Martin Scorsese' finest achievements as he teams up with Robert De Niro. Travis Bickle (De Niro) is the title character. The acting as a whole is exceptional. Harvey Keitel has an extremely small part as a pimp named Sport, and he brings a forgettable character to center stage. Keitel is so good in this you wish you would get to see more from his character. Jodie Foster plays the prostitute under Sports rule. Iris, is 12 years old, and for a 14 year old actress (at the time), Foster deals with some heavy and extremely adult material, and she handles it incredibly well. Keitel and Foster have a scene together where Sport holds her and slowly dances with her as he whispers into her ear about how lucky he is to have a woman like her. It's an utterly repulsive scene. The look on his face mixed with the calm and safe look on the face of Iris, is pretty disgusting. It's extremely well acted even though it's a pretty quick and minor scene. In this one scene we see the type of control Sport has over the young, impressionable child that he abuses and takes advantage of. These are the kinds of things that set Travis Bickle off. The film is a classic that dissects the fallout of one mans loneliness and his thirst for acceptance, recognition and notice. The editing is very good, the direction is great, but it's carried by a magnificent script from Paul Schrader and a great lead performance. This probably stands as De Niro's second best work to "Raging Bull," and among the finest acting performances of all time.

Travis Bickle is the self proclaimed, "God's lonely man." Bickle walks amongst the people on the filthy, crowded streets of New York City. Wherever he goes, he goes unnoticed; like a ghost meandering through life's morbid boredom of repetitiveness as each day endlessly runs into the next. Bickle suffers from an inability to sleep so he goes to the porno theaters after 12 hour shifts. His mind is constantly racing as he takes various forms of pills and abuses alcohol. The former Vietnam Veteran has a damaged psyche that continues to get worse and worse as the disgust for the lowlifes of New York eat away at his consciences. The first act of the films starts with a normal looking man, with a regular hair cut and regular job in an irregular city. We watch Bickle go through everyday routines and his work habit is the main focus to derive attention away from his bloodlust. We don't see much wrong with him other than some signs of frustration and restlessness. He decides that his body needs some fine tuning as he reverts back to his days as a Marine. He meets up with a gun dealer and buys three pistols and a .44 magnum. He's ready for war, and the table is set.

The ending of the film is controversial for its vagueness and its inability to state a clear purpose of reality or fantasy. The film strongly suggests a dream-like state as we watch with a long running overhead shot (possibly signifying Bickle's departure from the world?) of the carnage left in Bickle's wake. Then there's the music of a dream inducing state at the end of the scene, which is the strongest hint towards a dream like state. What we do know is that Travis Bickle takes the lives of lowlifes, degenerates, and the scum of the earth. He's treated as the hero and glorified by the media for his actions. This is a slap in the face to the media for finding that a vigilante did the right thing because it was for a good cause: Kill 5 scumbags, save 1. The final scene of the film is also controversial. We see Betsy for the first time since their big fight and she's no longer disgusted with Travis. Now the media has changed her opinion of him too. Travis has reverted back to the same look he spouted in the first act of the film. He's quiet, reserved and humble. He looks harmless. As the ride home goes along we find out that Palantine has won the nomination. After, Travis drops Betsy off, he leaves without taking her money and with a smile on his face he gives her a simple, "So long." As Travis drives off, he menacingly looks back into the mirror, representing a problem still exists, then we fade back to the start of the film. With the symbolic scenes throughout the film depicting Bickle's brooding, boiling, rage within; symbolizing the fact that nothing has changed. The near death experience doesn't cure him. The accolades from the media and the recognition from everyday people doesn't make it any better. He's still ready for war.
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Best movie of the Seventies, and one of the greatest of all time.
Infofreak4 June 2002
So much has been written and talked about 'Taxi Driver' that it seems almost redundant to add anything more. But watching it again the other night for the nth time I was, as I have been every single time I've seen it, struck by just how perfect this movie is. It is as powerful and disturbing now as it was twenty-five years ago. It has not only NOT aged, it gets better and more relevant every year. This is without doubt a modern classic, and one of the handful of truly great, timeless movies.

Scorsese and Schrader went on to make other great movies after this, both separately ('The King Of Comedy', 'Light Sleeper') and together ('Raging Bull', 'The Last Temptation Of Christ'), but this is easily the best movie of their careers. And Robert De Niro's too. He has yet to top his stunning performance here as the deeply disturbed and alienated Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle, cabbie and would be assassin. This character has not surprisingly entered movie legend.

Scorsese surrounds De Niro with a first rate supporting cast, including small but effective roles from Harvey Keitel ('Reservoir Dogs'), Peter Boyle ('Hardcore'), the underrated Victor Argo ('The King Of New York') and Joe Spinell ('Maniac'). Albert Brooks and Jodie Foster are also very good, and even Cybil Shepherd, the butt of many jokes, is fine as Bickle's obsession.

When you combine these actors, Schrader's outstanding script, and Scorsese's brilliant direction, with the stunning cinematography (Michael Chapman) and haunting score (Hitchcock fave Bernard Herrmann's final effort), you have yourself a truly unforgettable cinematic experience. If you haven't seen 'Taxi Driver' I urge you to do so immediately. It is a masterpiece, pure and simple.
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9/10
Explains What It`s Like To Be Male
Theo Robertson22 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
***** SPOILERS *****

How would anyone be able to relate to Travis Bickle ? He`s a freak show , a fantasist and a loner who watches porn films in cinemas with a cola in one hand and a candy bar in another and to all intents and purposes is an assassin and a stalker , but he also strikes a cord with any man who`s been angry and young and rejected . He`s an outsider that society has turned its back on : " Why won`t you talk to me " is the heartbreaking question every young angry man screams at the world when he`s very alone

Scorsese directs Paul Schrader`s low concept script on a shoestring budget - That`s not a criticism , quite the reverse because this leads to a hyper-realism and it`d be impossible to think that a major Hollywood studio would produce something like this nowadays where everything is about making money while playing it safe : A character study of a disturbed loner ? 12 year old prostitutes ? Vigilante executions ? Too controversial , not enough explosions , not enough CGI . If there`s a flaw in the screenplay it`s at the end where Travis wipes out the pimp business and becomes a hero which left me confused . Doesn`t society punish murderers even if they kill scum that use 12 year olds as prostitutes ? Even if he was cleared by the jury surely Travis would still have stood trial for murder ? but this is never referred to in the closing scenes , but I guess this is a comment on how society can quickly make a hero out of a villain and how a nobody can become the talk of the town , but still it seems to go against the grain of the script where we - Or at least the young males in the audience - recognise that an uncaring society is the villain where as Travis is the hero all along

Despite the flawed ending of the screenplay ( Which is superb untill the last ten minutes ) this is still a movie masterpiece with Scorsese getting an acting tour de force from his cast . Jodie Foster as a child who sells her body on the streets of New York , a totally disturbing , brilliant performance , and DeNiro and Keitel in the same movie ! I`ve no idea if this is just hype but I heard all the stage schools in the USA were swamped at the time by applications from applicants in Compton , Hell`s Kitchen , South Central and The Bronx who`d seen DeNiro and Keitel in the " I`m hip " scene ( A scene that was totally adlibbed by the actors ) and decided that acting could be cool and macho after all . As I said I don`t know how true this is but the performances of these two actors has given a massive amount of credibility to the acting profession and it really is sad to see the DeNiro of today churn out so much garbage . This his greatest performance . I also rate it as Scorsese`s best movie

As a footnote may I recommend to all the angry young men reading this review to track down the albums of Matt Johnson aka The The especially the mid 80s albums SOUL MINING and INFECTED which have lyrics that could have been written by Travis himself . Matt is a great fan of Scorsese and it shows
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8/10
Live it and lose it
cinevox15 January 2003
Scorsese's best. Not too many hyper-critical reviews of this film have anything near as intelligent to say about what the director and the screenwriter had in mind when they created this American gem.

To those people that have seen it and thought it was "slow" or the pacing was sub par, they don't know what they're talking about; "Taxi Driver" is about the gradual and eventual take-over of insanity, and not about violence, action-shoot-'em-up 'slash' car chase... or whatever they expected from it. The modern audience today is expecting everything--comedy, drama, unbearable suspense, spfx--all rolled-up into one-stop entertainment... and no, I'm not anybody's grandfather, or here to tell you that movies were great in my day, but, viewers, lighten up already.

De Niro, and the rest of the cast, do a serviceable job in this micro-cosmic window into the life of Travis Bickle--a Vietnam vet--who, true, writes mind-numbing entries in his diary, leads a, for the most part, dull existance as a cabbie, and strikes out with a female political campaigner who, after Travis becomes a hero, discovers she is indeed attracted to unstable, sometimes violent chauffeurs.

The rest of this movie's story is for the less initiated viewer; decide whether you've truly become desensitized to sexual and violent content in today's films... Ah, forget it! You have to have lived at least some of which goes on in "Taxi Driver," or you've just been plain lucky in this life so far.
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1/10
What is it with this movie?
kuchen_kruemel24 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I mean, seriously. What is it with this movie? I've seen it twice, read stuff about it, got a lecture on it, and I still can't see how anybody could call this movie a masterpiece. So Scorsese shows us a shot of an empty hall while DeNiro is talking on the phone. So what? And is the fact that he constantly makes us aware that we're watching a movie a sign of Scorsese's greatness? Even when it doesn't serve any real purpose??? I particularly dislike the ending - the lack of comment on the violence and the way Travis turns out to be a hero. Is this a critique of violence or a celebration of it? It is clearly not very hard to imagine someone inspired by Travis's resolution to "clean up the streets".

Besides, I thought the film was pretty boring. Especially the second time I watched it.

I think "Taxi Driver" is hugely overrated. But that's just me, of course...
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10/10
Notes from Above Ground.
MovieAddict20161 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Somewhere in the shadows of the night, hidden within the restraints of his taxicab, a lonely man watches with disgust. His eyes survey the streets with all the malice and passion of a burning fire, his large pupils an open doorway leading into his soul. The demons haunt him; voices in his head convince him that the world is closing in and the only way out is through some form of moral redemption; a physical and emotional catharsis.

The stranger's name is Travis Bickle and he is God's Lonely Man: a discharged Vietnam veteran who wanders the streets at night in a permanent state of confusion and self-loathing.

Travis takes a job as a cab driver to keep out of the porn theaters that have been occupying his time – deciding he might as well get paid for roaming since he does it anyway.

But Travis' filtered input and odd output seems to suggest something is dreadfully wrong. The mild insanity of our protagonist begins to escalate. He approaches an attractive political campaign adviser, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), and asks her out to dinner. She agrees, but the date is cut short when Travis takes her to an X-rated film.

Travis soon meets a young underage prostitute named Iris (a fourteen-year-old Jodie Foster), whom he feels a desire – nay, a need -- to rescue from slavery. Iris' pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel), becomes another of Travis' demons.

Taxi Driver was released in 1976 to split praise. Some critics hailed it as a masterpiece, whilst others were a great deal more reserved in their accolade. In Newsweek, Jack Kroll wrote "(…) in their eagerness to establish rich and moral ambiguities, the Catholic Scorsese and the Calvinist Schrader have flubbed their ending. It's meant to slay you with irony, but it's simply incredible." Some critics just hated the film in general and felt the entire runtime was a mess of pretentious storytelling and depressing, gritty themes.

Depressing? Yes. Gritty? Yes. Brilliant? Most definitely. Scorsese does not merely address Travis as a character; he puts us inside his head. And even so, there are instances of abnormality in Scorsese's camera work that suggest paranoia and schizophrenia; moments of displaced subjectivity in which we are neither looking quite through the eyes of Travis nor through those around him, but more at length to his side…yet it seems that his body (primarily his hands) are below us, at the side of the frame, indicating an altered version of the traditional P.O.V.

Scorsese's movie is structured using diverse narrative elements – one of the most prominent being dramatic irony rooted in Greek tragedy (in this case, many set-up and pay-off moments). When Travis exits the brothel for the first time, a Mafioso figure says, "Come back any time." Travis responds, "I will." We know he will, too, and when he does, that's the pay-off.

Above all else the film is rooted in the basic existentialism philosophies of Berdyaev, Heidegger and Nietzsche. Scorsese later admitted this his toying of genres and philosophy was entirely incidental ("It just felt right…") but one can't help but imagine Schrader may have been influenced by Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground, in which our narrator begins, "I am a sick man…I am a spiteful man." This brings to mind the scene in which Bickle dictates his journal entries to us and delivers an ultimatum to the "filth" on the streets, preceded by senseless introspective rambling.

Moving on, the ultimate puzzle of the film: Does our hero live or die? After Travis is shot in the climactic battle, he lies on a sofa, presumably dying, and makes a gesture with his fingers, pretending to shoot himself in the head. The camera pulls up, overhead, and exits the brothel. It then pulls back across the street and up into the heavens, surveying the crowd below.

In the next scene, Travis is alive and well, presented to the world as a hero through the media. Yet as Travis pulls away from the curb at the end of the film, Herrman's familiar four notes (the same ones as used for the final shot of Psycho, implemented when Norman Bates' lack of absolute sanity is finally revealed) come into play. A bell rings. Travis looks in his rearview mirror, as if maybe something caught his eye… And then, suddenly, the movie ends.

Taxi Driver's ending cannot be resolved further more than conjecture and opinion. Scorsese himself says on the DVD making-of documentary that he believes the ending is open for analysis. Did Travis live? Did he die? Are the demons on the street still haunting him? Are we meant to sympathize with him and believe he is a hero, or are we meant to refuse him as one? (Or is this our natural reaction against Scorsese's own wishes -- which would explain the negative reviews in '76?)

But it is ultimately the haunting image of Bickle drifting through the endless hordes of nameless people on the streets of Manhattan that lingers with us after the film has ended, and remains the most prescient today. How effortlessly this man can disappear into the multitudes – God's Lonely Man once again alone, alienated and betrayed by the world he has come to loathe. That, above all else, is the most poignant aspect of Taxi Driver.
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10/10
An Unforgettable Movie and Lead Character
ccthemovieman-13 April 2006
"Travis Bickle" has to be one of the most fascinating characters ever put on film, and this has to still rank as one of the best post-film noir era "noirs" ever made.

Yeah the story is a bit seedy but it's an incredibly interesting portrait of a mentaly unbalanced cab driver (Bickle, played by Robert De Niro) and his obsessions with "cleaning up" New York City.

In addition to De Niro's stunning performance, we see a young and gorgeous Cybill Shepherd and a very, very young (12 years old) Jodie Foster. I've always wondered what kind of parents would allow their 12-year-old daughter to play a role like this, but that's another subject. Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel (with shoulder-length hair!) and Peter Boyle all lend good supporting help.

Bickle's transformation from a "disturbed" cabbie to a fully-deranged assassin is fantastic to watch, and includes one of the classic scenes in all film history: Bickle talking to the mirror and repeating the question, "You talking' to me?" That scene, and seeing De Niro in a Mohawk haircut later at a political rally are two scenes I'll never forget.

The more times I've watched this, the more I appreciate the cinematography and the music in here. There are some wonderful night shots of the city's oil and rain-slicked streets. Also, Bernard Herrmann eerie soundtrack is an instrumental part of the success of this film and should never be neglected in discussing this film.

Director Martin Scorcese has made a number of well-known (but not particularly box-office successful) films, and I still think this early effort of his was his best. He's never equaled it, although I think he and De Niro almost pulled it off five years later with another whacked-out character, "Rupert Pupkin" In "The King Of Comedy."

In any case, there is no debate that Scorcese and De Niro are a great team and that Taxi Driver is one of the most memorable movies of the Seventies.
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3/10
So open to interpretation that the plot falls out...
aurinidmj22 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The movie starts off with a mystery man walking into a dingy cab company and applying for a job. Something's off about him, he's friendly on the surface but underneath it there's something stiff and cold. He mentioned the Marine Corp, did something in Vietnam break him? Has he seen too many tragedies, and this waxen face is the most he can muster? Does he see the hookers and pimps, the human slime wandering the streets, and question what he was fighting for? And what about those pills he keeps taking – is there some underlying mental condition? Then, driving around in his cab he sees a woman. He stalks her to her job at a Senator's campaign office, and at first we think there's going to be some sort of conflict here, but then the camera pulls in to focus on her – and she's just as waxen and artificial as he is. Both of them speak with bizarre dialogue, just two degrees off of normal. Eventually he walks in, and they start dating.

Then, another twist – Senator Palpatine *ahem* Palantine gets into his cab one night. When the Senator asks what he cares about, he tries to explain the human vermin wandering the streets. You see fear in the Senator's eyes... but he responds with a greasy quote about working hard and changing the system.

At this point I was intrigued by the movie. I wanted to see how these characters would interact, conflict with each other; I wanted to know why the Taxi Driver was slightly off, and why this woman seemed to mimic him. Was the violence eventually going to be about some political or moral principle? Or will it be an emotional, shattering break down like some sort of Shakespearean tragedy? Unfortunately, none of this came to pass. For some reason he takes the woman on a date to a... porno theatre? In between orgy scenes and Dutch dialogue, there's a microscopic view of sperm fertilizing an egg. Whatever. The girl is initially hesitant, but accedes to watch the film, only to storm out in disgust five minutes later. She then disappears until the ending of the film.

When he gives up on calling her, he starts stalking a 12 year old prostitute. They go for coffee, and he tries to convince her to quit. She calls him a square.

Then he buys a whole bunch of guns and builds a nifty spring-mounted holster for his arm.

Then he talks to a Secret Service agent, then wanders off.

There's a long winded conversation between him and another cab driver – okay, I missed this part because I was busy talking about how many unnecessary scenes there were in this 115 minute long movie – but the bits I did catch didn't seem that critical.

Then we watch a love scene between the 12 year old prostitute and her pimp. It's romantic, and it goes on forever. We have no idea who his character is – he's just 'the pimp.' Then the Taxi Driver shows up planning to shoot Senator Palpatine, screws up and runs away. After that he goes and shoots the pimp, the hotel owner, and a Mafioso. He then tries to commit suicide (never giving the 12 year old the money he'd set aside for her in an earlier scene), but he's out of bullets. For five long, long minutes we watch the camera pan over the bloody scene.

Then we find out that he survived, he's a hero, and the girl went back to his parents. He's back to driving a cab, hanging out with his old cab-driving buddies (who were never fleshed out) then the girlfriend from earlier in the movie asks for a ride. He drives her home, they don't talk, and he doesn't charge her for the fare. Now the movies over.

This movie fills me with rage and confusion. None of the characters are fleshed out, most of them are unnecessary to what little story there is, it's completely unrealistic – not in an artistic 'suspension of disbelief' way, just a stupid way – and I can't discern any point to this movie. Why does he call the street people scum, yet go to watch porn movies every night? What's his fundamental problem? Is he fixed at the end of the movie, and if so, what's fixed about him? All of this build up of him becoming Rambo, only to shoot three guys – and even then, screw that up badly? What about the love scene between the pimp and the 12 year old? Why the politician? And for god's sake, why were there so many dragged out, unnecessary scenes where absolutely nothing happened? 'Open to Interpretation' means that you can use a film/novel/song as a platform to discuss feminism, politics, racism, violence, human nature, and anything else – but the art itself has a distinct strand to it. This movie does not. It's sort of like the late-era Beatles' songs where they just slapped together random words... only those were at least entertaining and contained emotion. This movie had none of that. The only emotion it successfully conveyed was alienation – because I'm sure as hell feeling alienated right now.

Deep existential questions are troubling my soul – if such ugliness as this can exist, than does beauty even matter anymore? This film is so ugly, sad, and broken that compared to it the most vigorous celebration of youth, love, and beauty is nothing but whistling in the dark as the universe dissolves into entropy, a featureless room-temperature void...

I don't know if I'll ever feel joy again. Even the blue soulful depths of melancholy are a sweet fruit which will forever be gone from my life. It's with my last act of will and human charity that I beseech you – if you love yourself, then please – Don't watch Taxi Driver!
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6/10
You'll love the mood.. but is the ending worth 2 hours of build up?
energyzeezo17 April 2017
A nicely made dark and majestic experience, see the world through the eyes of a weird taxi driver, as his character progresses from a total embarrassment to a mad dog. The movie sends a clear message about society and human ego, and how a man's pride can drift him into insanity.

The mood is nice, a prime example on a classic Noir movie, it builds up and prepares you mentally for the big ending.. an ending that failed to live up to the hype that the movie has built in you.. though it had a short yet exciting action scene the ending is pretty simple and is more about delivering a simple message rather than leaving you amazed or satisfied.

The dark comedy in the movie is pretty clear, it shows you how messed up society really is, the movie was executed flawlessly when it comes to cinematic and production, but it will disappoint you at the very end, the ending was just too "MEH" to bear, especially after an excellent build of events preceding it, such a pity.

I'm sure the movie was a big hit at the time of its release (after the Vietnam war), but I'm not sure it would be enjoyed the same at our current time, so let me put it this way: - If you enjoy a dark Noir mood with nice character development then watch it now. - If you enjoy movies with subliminal messages then add this one to your "watch when I have nothing else to watch" list. - If you're looking for a great story with a nice twist to it, I wouldn't recommend Taxi Driver.
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4/10
Still don't get it?
Ghenghy21 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Just forced myself to watch this film again for the third time thinking maybe I had some Natural Born Killer prejudice against this movie, which I kicked, but after painfully sitting through this thing again for the last time all I can say is I'm tired, depressed, and befuddled at the high praise for this darkly disturbing film. Or maybe that's the alure for some people. If you look at the votes for this thing people either love it or hate it. I'm mostly indifferent. The problem I have with Taxi Driver is that there are too many unanswered questions about Travis' background, experience in the Marine Corp, etc. We know he was discharged while Vietnam was winding down but we don't have a clue what the source of his "instability" is! Are we to assume that he had suffered some sort of trauma during the war...did he ever see any action...was he really discharged because of his instability? In fact, the guy seems perfectly normal other than a slightly obsessive compulsive complex which 70% of society is sporting, and he can't sleep. Awwww, poor thing. Well neither can I, and a lot of people can't sleep at nights. Does that alone make Travis a candidate for the nuthouse? Nope. The truth is, we don't know what his problems stem from and that is a major problem with this movie. His descent is so spontaneous when Betsy reacts about being dragged to an adult film, and he just snaps, we don't know why?!? (spoiler alert) Next thing you know the guy is buying guns like there's no tomorrow to feed his all-of-a-sudden John Wayne complex that springs from a source we can't as an audience connect with. Good performances overall don't salvage the many holes that litter the canvas of this highly overrated drama. And somebody please explain to me all this talk about Travis searching for "redemption", from WHAT>?>? Jeez! The final shootout is a little too reminiscent of the Wild Bunch where spurting blood and bad editing wooed critics all around. Amazing. 6/10
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10/10
An individual's fight- against loneliness and for justice.
Boba_Fett113818 February 2006
"Taxi Driver" is a beautiful portrayed of an individual who tries to do things his way, in the hectic and dangerous New York of the '70's. He already isn't a stable person to begin with (he's a Vietnam veteran) but through his loneliness and due to his own personal views and idea's of society and the world, he gets more and more consumed by the rotten society until he feels it is enough and decides to take matters into his own hands.

Beauty of the movie is that it gets interpreted by everyone in his or hers own way. Everyone sees some different things in the story and characters. I think this also was what writer Paul Schrader and director Martin Scorsese had in mind, while making this movie.

The story takes us into the world of Travis Bickle. We begin to see society through his eyes and we more and more begin to understand the character as the movie progresses. It makes his character not only a understandable one but also a very realistic one. Nothing in this movie is overdone or made to look better or worser than it is in real life.

The movie is made extra powerful through the performances of the cast. Robert De Niro is a sensational main lead and the supporting cast is also real great. Some well known actors that were still unknown at the time of this movie make an appearance, such as a very young Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Victor Argo and an almost unrecognizable young Harvey Keitel.

The entire movie is sensational- and with lots of style directed by Martin Scorsese, who knows how to set the right mood and atmosphere. The simple- but effective and realistic from Michael Chapman and the musical score by Bernard Herrmann (his last) also add to the atmosphere. Also of course the fact that New York City serves as the backdrop for this movie, gives the movie a typical dark and gritty feeling and atmosphere. Everything is slowly but powerfully build up in the movie and every sequences plays a significant role. A result of this is that the movie is filled with some unforgettable sequences, of which the famous 'You talking' to me?' sequence is the best known. But also the violent ending leaves a lasting impression.

It's still a movie that applies today, after 30 years now. Because lets face it, what exactly has been changed in society compared to 30 years ago and now? The subject and meaning of the movie could still apply to present day. It makes "Taxi Driver" a timeless and important movie that is a perfect reflection of society and already is worthy of the 'classic'-status.

Yet another essential '70's viewing.

10/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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2/10
Taxi Driver (1976)-A Film With A Fatally Flawed Storyline
JoeKulik21 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I watched Taxi Driver (1976) a couple of years ago & thought that it was a film with a fatally flawed storyline that didn't really deserve the big box office response & all the critical accolades it got.

However, now that I've just viewed Taxi Driver a second time, I must report that I STILL feel that it's a film with a storyline SO flawed that there is JUST NO WAY that I can consider it much more than a mediocre film, at best.

True enough, Taxi Driver is a film with some great qualities. The cinematography is exciting & innovative. The acting of the WHOLE cast is really superior.

However, all the great qualities of this film are for nothing, as far as I'm concerned, because, at least for me, if a film has a story line that is fundamentally flawed, then that just makes the rest of the film pointless. True enough, there plenty of fine films out there with improbable characters &/or improbable storyline elements where through good acting, & good direction they were able to pull off at least a semi-plausible, or semi-believable film. However, there are fatal flaws in the storyline of Taxi Driver that no amount of good acting or good direction would ever be able to overcome.

1) That cabbie Travis would take beautiful, educated, impeccably dressed, upscale campaign executive Betsy to a hard core porn movie on their first date is just STUPID. Look, Travis spent time in the Marines & he has a reputation of being the only cabbie who will take fares even to the roughest parts of NYC without getting into trouble, so he has lots of life experience & lots of "street smarts". Moreover, his social boldness in walking in off the street to talk to upscale Betsy, & his smooth, seductive language when he is wooing her in the campaign office & then again in the coffee shop belies a level of social sophistication that is beyond the narrative of this film. So why is a guy like Travis, who apparently has so much "on the ball" STUPIDLY taking an educated, upscale gal like Betsy to a hard core porn movie on their first date?

2) That Travis begins to get deranged & delusional after Betsy blows him off, & that he buys a number of guns, & starts to systematically stalk candidate Palatine & then, after his assassination attempt fails that he goes to rescue adolescent prostitute Iris, killing several guys in the process is pure BS. Having a BA & a MA in Psychology, I can tell you that mental illness just doesn't work that way. If Travis spent such a long time plotting the assassination of Palatine, then no simple foiled assassination attempt would allow him to focus his obsessiveness elsewhere. In reality, a paranoid borderline psychotic like Travis would just regroup for another attempt to kill the object that he has been stalking for so long, not just "turn on a dime" & choose a new object to kill.

3) That Travis is a deranged guy who has been plotting the murder of a Presidential candidate for a long time, & then starts a caring, empathetic relationship with the kid prostitute Iris is just from outer space. A guy who is as twisted as Travis, who spends 24/7 obsessed with killing a prominent person just doesn't take a "mental health vacation" & goes to express concern to a teenage hooker & has a rational conversation with her. SORRY, but the severe mental illness that Travis was exhibiting after Betsy blew him off just can't be switched on & off that way.

4) That Travis is hailed in the newspapers as a "hero" after he murders 4 bad guys while "rescuing" Iris is just STUPID. a) Replete with his Mohawk haircut, & unconscious to boot when the cops arrived after the big shootout, Travis would've been pegged as a bad guy who was in a shootout with other bad guys, & as a lowly NYC cabbie Good Luck talking your way out that corner. b) Even if the cops & the DA did recognize that Travis was not a bad guy but a misguided vigilante ala Bernard Goetz, chances are good that he'd still end up in prison for murder because not even bona fide cops have the legal authority to have the type of self initiated, unprovoked shoot out with the bad guys that Travis had.

5) That elegant, beautiful, educated, upscale, uptown Betsy actually seeks out the lowly cabbie Travis & makes overtures to him at the end of the film is UNREAL enough in itself but that Travis blew her off & just drove away leaving her standing in the street is just FANTASTIC, UNBELIEVABLE, & the stuff of children's FAIRY TALES not of an adult feature film.

For these reasons, & others, I must conclude that Taxi Driver is an otherwise OK film but with an ill conceived, bush league storyline that is not even worthy of a B-movie, much less international film awards. Obviously, writer Paul Schrader did no research on the complex personality that was the centerpiece of his screenplay.
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1/10
Why This Film is a Classic is a Profound Mystery
ScottAmundsen18 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Martin Scorsese is one of those directors whose work I just don't seem to get. His films are not totally inaccessible, like most of the work of Stanley Kubrick, but sitting through a Scorsese production is often an exercise that pendulums back and forth between crashing boredom and utter incomprehensibility.

Of course, everyone knows by now that TAXI DRIVER is about isolation. Specifically the isolation of one man in the midst of a bustling city. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a Viet Nam veteran, applies for a job driving a taxi in New York on the graveyard shift; the reason he gives for wanting the job is that he does not sleep at night. That anyone would hire him to actually drive a vehicle under those conditions seems odd, but then everything about Bickle is odd. Clearly he suffers from a profound sense of isolation, but most of that is of his own making, since when it comes to social interaction this guy is so clueless that he makes burnout Reverend Jim from the television show "Taxi" seem like Albert Einstein by comparison.

Travis finds himself attracted to Betsy, a woman working on the presidential campaign of a politician (Cybill Shepherd, proving yet again that she cannot act her way out of a cream puff factory), and he has sufficient social skills to get her to agree to a movie date. Then he takes her to a XXX porn film. Of course she cannot get out of there fast enough, and he is totally bewildered; in his mind it was a perfect date movie.

A good deal of the story is told via Travis's inner thoughts, spoken by De Niro on the soundtrack. This device was old even in 1976, and there is too much of it; the audience is already alienated from this man, and having his thoughts overdubbed places him even farther from anything remotely approaching understanding.

Possibly the best scenes in the movie are the ones with Jodie Foster as Iris, a twelve-year-old prostitute whom Travis attempts to rescue from what he sees as a sordid life. Iris is possibly the most interesting person in the film; Foster plays her as a girl walking a tightrope between what she has to do to survive and the necessity to avoid danger; she is receptive to Travis at first, but even a twelve-year-old can see that this guy is not playing with a full deck. And at least she breathes some life into an unbearably tedious movie.

Which brings us to De Niro. He's good here, but he's much better elsewhere; watching him I had the impression that Scorsese went to one of two extremes: either he gave the actor no direction at all and let him do as he pleased, or he micromanaged every nuance of the character and in the process sucked the life out of it. Whatever, the result is a stilted and peculiar bit of acting that seems beneath a major talent like De Niro. Yes, we get Travis's isolation, but we never know what caused it, or why he is just so damn WEIRD.

And of course, as is Scorsese's habit, all of this is presented under the guise of "gritty reality" (think GOODFELLAS and RAGING BULL, both of which ram "gritty reality" down the viewer's throat until the urge to run screaming from the theater is almost overwhelming).

I am a native of New York City; I was born there and lived there until I was forty-two. Martin Scorsese is also a native of the City, but I do not recognize the picture of NYC he paints in this film at all. The simple answer is that we are seeing the City through Travis Bickle's eyes, but while he describes what he sees, we never find out WHY he sees things the way he does; it is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of a very frustrating film.

Great film? Depends on which critic you ask. The late Roger Ebert loved it. Leonard Maltin thinks it's awful. I suspect that, like most of Scorsese's oeuvre, this is one of those movies you either love or you hate. Well, I didn't exactly HATE it, but most of it is insufferably boring. De Niro presents us with a wacko character but fails to provide a provenance for his behavior. About the only good thing I can say about Cybill Shepherd is that her role is brief; she's absolutely PAINFUL to watch. It is only Jodie Foster, all of twelve years old yet wearing an ancient expression in her eyes that tells the story of where this girl has been, that draws and holds the audience's attention; honestly, without Foster the film would have no life at all.

And possibly the worst of it is that Bickle's increasing descent into violence is left totally unexplained. It would be easy to assume that it was his Viet Nam service that unhinged him, but the movie does not play that way and at any rate if that were the case it would have been an easy matter to communicate it. To put it in five short words, this film is a mess.
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10/10
DeNiro at the peak of acting excellence
Maniac-917 January 2013
Robert DeNiro gives a tour de force of acting excellence in this movie. One of the best acting performances of all time. This is a period of DeNiro's career when he was consistently churning out Oscar calibre performances one after another. He had this movie, Godfather Part II, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull all within the same basic time frame. When DeNiro and Scorsese were teaming up to make movies it was the best actor/director combinations in movie history. You had the best mind for movies in Scorsese working with the best on screen performer of his time.

It's a study of a man who's completely alone in the world even when surrounded by other people. What DeNiro was able to do just looking into a mirror asking "Are you talking to me" by himself is one of the best movie scenes in movie history.
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1/10
Beep! Beep! Honk! Honk!
roddekker2 May 2015
I don't get it. I really don't. (And, I guess I never will)

Why does this dreary, dead-end movie from the dreary, dead-end 1970s seem to rate so high with so many people? I can't, for the life of me, see how these people would give this certified dud 8 & 10-star ratings.

I mean, Taxi Driver's story was less than interesting. There wasn't a single likable character in the whole lot of these NYC losers. The directing was, for the most part, very amateurish and inconsistent. And the violence was, at times, almost laughable.

This, to me, was not in any way a satisfying movie-experience, yet people seem to, literally, fall all over themselves, heaping unwarranted praise on it.

Personally, I think that most of these people who love Taxi Driver to pieces are probably now in their 50s and 60s.

These people saw this film when it was first released in movie theaters back in 1976. And due to a sense of blind-nostalgia they continue to perceive this movie through rose-colored glasses. And, with that, there's absolutely nothing anyone can say that can shake that almost-senile sentimentality out of their little heads.
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5/10
Suck On This!
strong-122-47888527 February 2015
If you ask me - I think that Taxi Driver is one of those truly puzzling films that has been seriously over-rated (way-way-way out of proportion). It really has.

With me giving Taxi Driver 5 stars, I think that I am actually being quite generous with that rating - 'Cause, at best, this film was an average production that seemed to contain an almost endless stream of filler-scenes where absolutely nothing of any interest ever happens.

Now 40 years old, Taxi Driver (which contained some of the most inane dialogue and preposterous situations imaginable) certainly doesn't hold up very well today.

And fresh-faced actor, Robert De Niro, as the psychotic vigilante, Travis Bickle (and his double-talking, dime-store philosophy) was pretty dull stuff, for the most part.

And, speaking about Taxi Driver's climatic final showdown - I actually burst out laughing as I watched how badly this sequence was staged. And the over-dramatization of the violence, after the fact, was one of the worst examples of bad directing that I've seen in a mighty long time.

All-in-all - This highly-praised picture barely managed to rise above mediocrity on only a few occasions.

P.S. - If you want to see a real stand-out performance worthy of a "Razzie", check out Cybill Shepherd, as Betsy, the airhead political organizer.
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