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BRUCE DERN TAILING RYAN O'NEAL IN WALTER HILL'S 'THE DRIVER'

Title: THE DRIVER Year: 1978 Rates: ****
An action vehicle but not entirely, Walter Hill's THE DRIVER is more a meticulous, character-driven Neo Noir than rollercoaster ride: This includes a brooding Ryan O'Neal as a getaway DRIVER sought after by a determined cop played by not only scene but entire film-stealing Bruce Dern as... The Detective...

The Driver Mileage Rates: ****
As each character is sparsely named after what they are within a pulpy yet stark, slowburn template as no one means anything beyond what they're doing, who they're after or protecting, The Player in particular, Isabelle Adjani caught in-between as... speaking in monotone like everyone else except Dern... her best moments occur while listening...

Scenes when Dern questions her or THE DRIVER or a more honest detective in Matt Clark are even better than the chase scenes: Which, of course, directed by future WARRIORS and SOUTHERN COMFORT icon Walter Hill, are topnotch suspenseful and easy to follow – either dodging police prowlers or one of the bad guys who winds up after the titular bad guy we're rooting for. And the most intense screeching tires occur as THE DRIVER shows his stuff inside a parking garage, with no one chasing behind: deliberate car-porn at its finest.

Bruce Dern pooling with Matt Clark at Torchy's
CALIFORNIA SPLIT writer and scruffy character-actor Joseph Walsh, along with a scowling Rudy Ramos, are two of three bandits that eventually can't refuse a blackmailed offer, and with stakes raised, the movie veers into a somewhat convoluted sting-finale that doesn't work like the simple, more effective stuff leading up...

VHS Tape of The Driver
One of many classic Dern lines is "Guide dogs for everyone?" along with "I'm gonna catch The Cowboy who's never been caught!"

Which Quentin Tarantino had Michael Madsen spout decades later in KILL BILL, obviously changing cowboy to cowgirl and, in this case, it's the talky, old school, dime novel stuff that really pays off like a dime novel or modern Western (as Hill is prone to making) should...

And last but not least, to unbury the lead in the role originally intended to bring back a retired Steve McQueen, star of Sam Peckinpah's THE GETAWAY based on a Jim Thompson novel adapted to the screen by a non-famous Walter Hill (who'd earlier worked on the legendary car chase classic BULLITT), an unusually cast O'Neal, keeping inside what he lets loose behind the wheel, is genuine enough a presence to make Dern that much better against him: Like Charlton Heston did for Orson Welles in TOUCH OF EVIL, the main star, taking second seat to the crooked cop, still holds the key to everything.
Rudy Ramos and his own driver being chased by THE DRIVER in a warehouse
Rudy Ramos and Ryan O'Neal in THE DRIVER
For a movie called THE DRIVER here's the shot of a hot rod being driven
The nabbed red truck at the end of THE DRIVER
  Bruce Dern, a photo of Ryan O'Neal and Isabelle Adjani in THE DRIVER
Ryan O'Neal and Bruce Dern in THE DRIVER
Ryan O'Neal kicks in for THE DRIVER
Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu Ray Autographed by Rudy Ramos and BRUCE DERN
Ryan O'Neal in THE DRIVER
Rudy Ramos in THE DRIVER
Rudy Ramos and his own driver driving away from/being chased by THE DRIVER


 

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