The Driver (1978)

WALTER HILL

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBUSA, 1978, Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by , , Film Editing by , .

Ryan O’Neal in The Driver.

Nestled comfortably between Le Samourai and Drive is this effortlessly cool classic by Walter Hill. Ryan O’Neal looks great in tailored suits as a getaway driver who makes the mistake of being seen by a witness (Isabelle Adjani) after escorting robbers from a casino heist. Adjani is brought in by cop Bruce Dern but keeps quiet about what she has seen, only enraging Dern further in his determination to catch O’Neal and put him away for good. After the arrest of three robbers, Dern makes a deal that he’ll go easy on them if they set up a fake job using O’Neal as their driver, hoping that this will help to play the man directly into his hands. There’s probably only dialogue about twenty percent of the time in this highly stylized film, the emphasis is on night drives and deep, soulful glances between characters, resulting in an action movie that works exceptionally well for being distilled down to such primary, pure qualities. The emphasis on archetype is so strong that the characters don’t even have names, there are only character positions listed in the end credits, but casting it with a roster of actors who are brimming over with personality enriches the storytelling. Ronee Blakley co-stars as the connection between O’Neal and his gigs.

 

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