The Driver (1978)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Post-Noir (Modern Noir)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Michael Costello

Walter Hill has always used myth and archetype as the backbone of his films but in this beautifully made existential noir he takes this approach as far as he ever has, eliminating any hint of psychology or sociology, even denying the characters any names. In a film that seems an odd marriage of Bresson and Hemingway, the blank-faced O'Neal speaks barely more than 300 words throughout, his character manifest in his grace and economy of action. Lest this sound too much like an exercise in philosophical bombast, it's worth mentioning that the film's only apparent raison d'ĂȘtre is three of the most spectacular car chase sequences ever committed to celluloid. Shot by the legendary Phillip Lathrop, who also gave the similarly hard-edged Point Blank (1967) and Hard Times (1974) much of their visual allure, the film's sleek, dark-toned, wide-screen compositions resonate powerfully, particularly the scenes in L.A.'s Union Station. As the cop on a futile quest to collar the superhuman wheelman, Dern does a fine job in the film's only actable part.