THE DRIVER (Walter Hill, 1978)


Here's the movie that may have influenced that recent movie most of you have been raving about (well, including me) - Nicolas Winding Refn's DRIVE. Both movies have familiar basic elements - the lone "driver", the mysterious woman, that sticky situation, a cunning adversary, the protagonist works as a getaway driver for thieves, and there's some burning tires to be had.

In fact, the first 15 minutes of THE DRIVER made me ponder if Refn ripped off this Walter Hill 70s action thriller. Later scenes in THE DRIVER would prove that the two movies have so much differences as there are similarities, but still I cannot shake the fact Refn was somehow influenced by this one. 

THE DRIVER, like DRIVE puts style over substance, yet THE DRIVER falls short of logic in its storytelling. There are plot holes sufficient to create a different movie altogether.

Ryan O'Neal plays the titular unnamed character. Bloodthirsty to pin him down is the cop (Bruce Dern), who is so full of himself he succeeds on the level of onscreen hatred. Then there's the girl (Isabelle Adjani), a wild card, recruited to be the driver's alibi in order to mislead the cops on his tail after a lengthy pursuit during the beginning of the movie. Then there's some really sleazy scumbags who plan to rob another bank. Of all this murkiness, Adjani is pitch perfect in the center as the only beautiful thing present.

Dialogue is minimal. The plot basically revolves around cop wanting to entrap the driver, by any means necessary. I'm quite surprised the director didn't pull out a chess game scene.

Here comes the lack of logic part. The simplest element of police work-surveillance, or the lack of it. When the cop and his two colleagues were waiting in a parking building for the driver to show up after a successful getaway, and he doesn't show- I was mad. Mad at the stupidity. Whatever happened to putting a tail on the driver?

The driver has a female contact who hands him the jobs. If she was so professional and brave enough to be in  an illegal business, how could she have been so pea-brained as to give away the location of the driver thinking her life will be spared by her assailant?

And what about the ending that promises a big twist, but left me gasping in disbelief rather? Disbelief that the story ended on such a lousy remark.

At least Isabelle Adjani was seductive in this movie. And the car chases were pretty solid.

RATING: 2/5  

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