"The Driver" is a specialist in a rare business: he drives getaway cars in robberies. His exceptional talent prevented him from being caught yet. After another successful flight from the police, a self-assured detective makes it his primary goal to catch the Driver. He promises remission of punishment to a gang if they help to convict him in a set-up robbery. The Driver seeks help from "The Player" (Isabelle) to mislead the detective.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
The studio wanted Charles Bronson for the lead as Walter Hill had previously worked with him on " Hard Times ". However, Bronson wasn't happy with how Hill had edited Jill Ireland's performance in " Hard Times ", and that was the end of that. See more »
During the first chase, the driver swings to the right, bumping the police car running next to him solidly broadside (judging by the sound effect), causing it so slide out and crash into a pile of sacks of cement. But in the next shots, we can see the police car's left side and the driver's car's right side clearly, and neither car shows any sign that they made contact. See more »
Well, well, here's my new man. How do you like it here so far?
Let's get something straight right now. I don't like new men. They make mistakes.
Well, I haven't made any yet.
Yeah, yeah. You're new. That's a mistake. And you talk too much... that's a mistake. That's the first thing you can learn. When you're talking, you're not thinking. Never talk... unless you have to.
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At Los Angeles's American Cinemateque, a 131 minute version of "The Driver" was shown. While it does add insights to some characters in the story, this longer version features many more car chases. See more »
Walter Hill's underrated film may have been forgotten completely had it not been for the success of the "Driver" series of Playstation games on which this film is a massive influence. Ryan O'Neal plays the Driver, a ronin-like character, willing to act as an unbeatable getaway driver for anyone as long as the price is right because, well...it's what he does. Bruce Dern is the Cop set on finally catching the elusive criminal, even if it means aiding and abetting criminal activity himself.
This most reminded me of Michael Mann's crime films from the 80s onwards such as "Thief" and "Heat" - Hill's film shares the same kind of existentialist themes about identity - men defined and ruled by their actions, to the extent that they have no room in their lives for anything else. It also shares Mann's style - creating an urban environment that's both chic, yet realistically gritty.
Ryan O'Neal may not have quite the cult status of Steve McQueen but his portrayal of the Driver as an empty, emotionless human being is strengthened through the characters sheer self-confidence and survival instinct. Bruce Dern gives the Cop a nice contrast to his lifeless target, bringing a kind of goofy, obsessive tenacity, as he sets up a bank job with some petty criminals in his attempt to be the first cop to catch the Driver. Isabelle Adjani is strikingly vacant, although her role in the proceedings is far from well defined.
It has to be said that the car chases are brilliant - from the opening getaway police chase to the Driver's calculated destruction of a very shiny Mercedes in an underground parking lot and the final cat and mouse game in a labyrinthine warehouse. The dramatic scenes do inevitably feel a bit sluggish sometimes and the constant hard-boiled dialogue does start to grate. Despite a seemingly sparse, clear-cut plot there are moments towards the climax which are confusing and frustrating.
The existential aspect of the plot is emphasised with a complete absence of character names, so maybe it is fitting that the film, and it's central character, only really comes alive during the car chase scenes - though this may be very relevant to the film's philosophy it does limit the sheer entertainment value as those looking for constant thrills, which the film does deliver, may find the wait between them in such a barren landscape a little tedious while armchair philosophers may find the existential "coolness" forced.
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