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Film / The Driver

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"You play against me, pal, you're gonna lose. You win, you make some money. I win, you're gonna do fifteen years. How 'bout it, driver?"
The Detective

The Driver is a 1978 crime/car chase film directed by Walter Hill and starring Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern, and Isabelle Adjani. The film is also notable for its impressive car chases, its no-frills style of filmmaking, and its rarely speaking, unnamed titular character.

The 2011 film Drive and its blond, taciturn protagonist were heavily inspired by this film, as was the PlayStation classic Driver, whose notoriously hard tutorial mission was based on a scene in this film.

The main character is the Trope Maker of the trope The Driver.

This film provides examples of:

  • Art Imitates Art: The major visual influence on the film was the works of artist Edward Hopper.
  • Badass Driver: The main character is hired by criminals specifically because he has excellent driving skills, which will be necessary to elude police. One band of robbers insist on a demonstration, so the driver proceeds to navigate a parking garage and shear off sprinkler valves with the front fenders, yet not touch the adjacent concrete pillars.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Driver is a dangerous criminal after all, and works for some pretty rotten people.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Or does he?
  • Doesn't Like Guns: "I told you I don't like guns." Though he is willing to use one when he needs to.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: The film opens with The Driver stealing a car by crossing two wires (although he does also connect the power wire to to the "run" wire after starting it to keep it running)
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A mild one but earlier in the movie The Detective gives a cop a condescending speech about how the cop is making mistakes and he (The Detective) will make him a better officer. At the climax of the movie, when the Detective seemly captures The Driver with a bag that is later revealed to be empty bag thus letting Driver being able to go free, this happens in front of the same cop who then proceeds to gives The detective a noticeable look of "you were saying".
  • Limited Wardrobe: Looks like a set rule: One outfit per character
  • Nameless Narrative / No Name Given: Not one character has a name in this movie, and are all addressed by their occupation or clothing.
  • Off on a Technicality: Justified in the end. When he reveals the bag is empty, even though the Detective has circumstantial evidence, without the money, he doesn't have anything that would guarantee a conviction, so any trial would only waste taxpayer dollars.
  • The Quiet One: The driver is a man of few words - 350 in all.
  • Re-Cut: Walter Hill's original cut was two hours long and included one additional action (but not chase) scene, and even though for years even the VHS tapes had said the length was over two hours, Hill has denied that this version was ever his intended cut and categorically stated that the existence of a longer director's cut is an urban myth. The US DVD includes an introductory sequence that the studio forced Hill to shoot to clarify who the characters are as a deleted scene, but this was dropped from all theatrical prints.
  • Smug Snake: The Detective is very arrogant in his attitude towards people and seems to look down on everyone.
  • Sparing the Final Mook: The climactic car chase has the Driver pursue the Kid into a warehouse, where they conduct a cat-and-mouse game. When the Kid makes a break for the exit, he gets shunted into a railway bay where his car is disabled. The Driver shoots the Kid for killing his pretty accomplice but spares The Kid's driver, who'd done an admirable job trying to evade pursuit.
    Scared kid: I'm just the driver.
    The Driver: Go home.
  • Stealing from Thieves: When the driver has completed the heist, and eluded pursuit by both the police and the double-crossing punks, the detective thinks he's finally caught this outlaw as he's carrying a valet case full of money, and makes the arrest... but the case is empty, so there's no incriminating evidence.
    Driver: Looks like we both got swindled.
    The Detective: Looks like we both got ripped off... by the exchange man.
  • Visual Pun: In the end with the money gone, the detective is quite literally left holding the (empty) bag.