Hola Dannie aqui!
With a review of "Wheelman" by our spy Wheels! I posted the trailer before the review, enjoy the trailer and the read!
“Do we really need another getaway driver movie?”
This was the first thing a friend said to me when I showed them the trailer for the upcoming Netflix film, WHEELMAN. Truthfully, at this point in cinema history the tale of the highly competent criminal-toting driver is a well-worn concept. Just a few short months ago, for example, we had Edgar Wright’s wildly successful take on the idea, BABY DRIVER and Ryan Gosling’s stoic driver from Refn’s modern classic, DRIVE, is still present in the thoughts of many a film fan. There are many other examples I could rattle off as well, going all the way back to Walter Hill’s spectacular classic of stripped-down narrative, THE DRIVER. So yes, there have been a lot of takes on this subject.
WHEELMAN separates itself from those other films by stylistically being closer to the Tom Hardy single location drama LOCKE. The majority of WHEELMAN takes place in two vehicles with only a brief interlude to bridge the two. This limitation on the story helps make the film feel fresh and at the same time hinders the film in significant ways.
The plot begins with Frank Grillo's unnamed wheelman meeting up with two low-rent criminals to perform a bank heist. One of the hood's Grillo is transporting (Shea Whigham, having a lot fun and sporting a mohawk) won't shut up about personal details and just generally annoys our protagonist. Once the robbery occurs. Grillo receives a call from a person who claims to be his employer demanding that he take off while his passengers are still in the bank, mid-robbery. If he doesn't bad things will happen to him and his family. This sets off a tense game of survival as the wheelman races for answers and to protect his family.
Sounds pretty standard, doesn't it? Well, that's because it is. Much like how the very concept of the film seems right at home with so many other crime films, the plot itself is no different. Where the film establishes its own voice is in the details and execution.
Grillo's wheelman is no savant behind the wheel or some superhero whose power is to drive better than anyone on the planet. Grillo's character is portrayed as a man working a job, who happens to be very competent. He's not portrayed as otherworldly. He's a skilled man with an unusual job and he treats it as routine. He seems more vexed with his daughter (played by an exceptional Caitlin Carmichael) spending the evening with an older boy unchaperoned than he does with the illegal activities happening around him.
Frank Grillo is front and center throughout the film’s slight running time and carries it well with a likable everyman-like quality. Whether he’s checking up on his daughter or wielding a AK-47 out of the side of his car, he comes across as a leading man you want to root for.
This is the first feature length film from writer/director Jeremy Rush and credit must be given for the ambition and creativity behind the frugal way he approached the film. He could have easily tried to make it all about the car chases, instead this is more of a character-driven thriller with brief moments of action scattered throughout. It’s an interesting visual experience going through action sequences with our protagonist where he and our perspective never leave the confined space of the car. It’s interesting but it never quite reaches the visceral thrills you hope for as the film barrels along. The film sometimes feels hampered by its stylistic choices in a way that may frustrate audiences wanting a more standard action film experience. Even with it’s very brisk runtime of 82 minutes the film feels stretched thin as it reaches an admittedly satisfying conclusion.
So… Do we really need another getaway driver movie? I’m not sure we needed this one but there are certainly worse ways to spend a lazy, Saturday afternoon with Netflix.
WHEELMAN drops on to Netflix 10/20/17.
Great write up Wheels!
Stay Strong, Live Good, Love Movies!
Dannie aka Pekosa Peligrosa aka Sister Satan