Although it’s a dated and somewhat clumsy 70s crime thriller, The Driver has a legion of admirers within the filmmaking community who have used it as inspiration for their own work. Itself basically a remake of the classic French film Le Samourai, it has become one of those flawed but hugely influential cult films that people keep referencing even though most people don’t know what they’re referring to. The general themes and concept of an unnamed, almost-mute protagonist was borrowed most recently by Nicolas Winding Refn in his similarly-titled Drive, and Quentin Tarantino regularly enthuses about it and references it in his films. Its blunt and straightforward, almost minimalist style combined with some inspired car chase scenes are what really linger, even if it treads a fine line between being artful and pretentious.

It also nestles in the middle of a fine creative run for director Walter Hill, whose no-nonsense approach to genre pictures can also be seen in the previous Hard Times, and was followed by cult classic The WarriorsThe Long Riders and South Comfort, as well as the later Crossroads. All of Hill’s early work like this seemed to push a sparse, stripped-down approach to filmmaking, and are worth checking out for similar reasons of influence and inspiration. As genre films and B-movies continue to be strip-mined by so many American filmmakers, on both a blockbuster and independent level, it’s worth becoming acquainted with their forerunners as much as possible. Plus, sometimes all you want is a guy, a girl and a car chase. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Expertly-staged and choreographed car chases9
Simplified, economical genre filmmaking8
Slightly shoddy and dated 70s style and content5
Influence on various modern filmmakers9
Le Samourai is a hell of a lot better, though6
Bechdel Test Passes
  • n/a
Bechdel Test Failures
  • Does not feature any named female characters
  • None of the characters are named, in fairness
7Overall Score

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