Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Driver (1978)

Director: Walter Hill
Writer: Walter Hill
DOP: Philip H. Lathrop
Cast: Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Adjani

The Driver (Ryan O'Neal) is a getaway driver and the best in the business. A detective (Bruce Dern) is hellbent on nabbing him and lays a trap in the form of a bank job.

None of the characters in the film have any names and there is minimal dialog. It was supposedly inspired by Melville's Le Samourai and went on to inspire films like 'The Drive' which is in fact a mix of many films including William Friedkin's 'To Live and Die in LA'. The Driver is very stripped down with a basic plot like many great crime films like Michael Mann's 'Thief'. The more stripped down they are the, better they stand the test of times. This film was in fact a disaster both commercially and critically when it came out. The protagonist, in what is a genre cliché, is reluctant to commit to the projects he is getting into and there is this one last job before retirement routine going on. It will be interesting if someone goes against this routine by having the getaway driver be very loud and gleeful about getting a project.

I haven't seen Bullitt yet and not enjoying Peckinpah's The Getaway is one of the reason why. It is on the to watch list along with Varnishing Point after these films getting mentioned a lot in the lead up to Baby Driver. Coming back to The Driver, it is Bruce Dern who steals the acting bits while Ryan O'Neal is quite fittingly indifferent to things. Many of the things that you see in the film will seem like clichés now but they must have been quite novel when they came out. I haven't seen any of the other films from Walter Hill and Warriors do get mentioned a lot from his filmography.

Rating: 4.5/5