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    The Driver Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Fox Twilight Time

    Aug 05 2013 01:10 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    The hyper-kinetic action sequences in Walter Hill’s The Driver do a great deal to alleviate the disappointing lack of character development inherent in the director’s script. The fine actors might as well be puppets for all the depth they get to display during the movie, but if action’s your thing, The Driver certainly delivers.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: Twilight Time
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
    • Subtitles: English SDH
    • Rating: PG
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: All
    • Release Date: 07/23/2013
    • MSRP: $29.95

    The Production Rating: 3.5/5

    A professional getaway driver (Ryan O’Neal) has his craft down to a science. He’s so good, in fact, that he’ll often leave small clues behind taunting the police who can’t quite manage to finger him. A frustrated police detective (Bruce Dern) has made it his mission to bring down the driver at any cost, even to the point of railroading some crooks (Joseph Walsh, Rudy Ramos) who got caught in a failed robbery attempt to hire the driver for a new robbery that he’ll mastermind so that he can catch the driver in the act. But the driver has some tricks of his own up his sleeve.

    By giving none of his characters names, writer-director Walter Hill further strips his characters of any human identities. We’re dealing with character types here (the strong, suave, silent crook, the manipulative, egotistical police detective, the poker-faced femme fatale played by Isabelle Adjani), but the game of cat and mouse doesn’t really get milked for all it’s worth because we don’t get invested enough in the characters to care that much what happens to them, and Hill’s script seems to play a little fast and loose with the final caper. O'Neal's driver seems to be drawn into the trap awfully easily even though the ending is sufficiently pleasurable. But, Hill has staged three absolutely jaw-dropping car sequences: two high speed chases with the driver against either the police or a young professional rival (Frank Bruno) and the film’s centerpiece where the driver displays his skills as a kind of absolute reality resume for a potential client to see his skills in action. These breathless examples of stupendous stunt driving seem almost unmatched in modern cinema and give the movie its greatest claim to fame.

    While he’s perfectly adequate as the title character, Ryan O’Neal seems almost too pretty to be among the sleazy cops and crumbs he works with in the film. Bruce Dern plays the same kind of cocksure mouthy detective that made him quite off-putting in The Laughing Policeman, and if the movie generates a rooting interest for O’Neal’s character, it’s mainly because the viewer wants to see the egomaniacal Dern character fall on his face. Isabelle Adjani struggles with her English and comes across as quite brittle in the film; Ronee Blakley as O’Neal’s “agent” who sets up the jobs for him is also a little stilted and doesn’t have the excuse of speaking a language that isn’t her own. Matt Clark and Felice Orlandi are better than they have to be as Dern’s detective partners while Joseph Walsh has some effective moments as a hood who’s in over his head.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film is presented in a 1.85:1 transfer faithful to its original theatrical exhibition and is offered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is really outstanding throughout, and color reproduction is spot-on with accurate and appealing flesh tones. Black levels are very deep and impressive though there may be just a bit of black crush that limits shadow detail occasionally. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is very typical of mono soundtracks from this era. The screeching tires and gunning engines come through with a fierce fidelity in the mix, and Michael Small spare score is most effective. Dialogue is usually nicely recorded though a few of Isabelle Adjani’s lines seem a bit muffled, possibly due to her mumbling or a hesitancy to speak English. The three tracks of dialogue, effects, and music are mixed together adroitly in this very effective audio track.

    Special Features: 2.5/5

    Alternate Opening (3:20, HD): separate scenes with Isabelle Adjani and Bruce Dern set up some information on both of their roles in the film though later events made these scenes unnecessary.

    Isolated Score Track: the isolated score by Michael Small is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.

    Theatrical Trailer (2:26, SD): shows the original R-rating, later graded a PG.

    6-Page Booklet: contains a nice array of color stills, poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s incisive analysis of the movie.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5

    The Driver is a cut-to-the-bone cat and mouse thriller offering touches of noir atmosphere and an effective mood of sleazy decadence. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies .

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    6 Comments

    Photo
    Ronald Epstein
    Aug 05 2013 09:52 PM

    Just received my copy.

     

    Never saw this film before, but I know the reputation of

    Walter Hill.

     

    Going to spin this one up in a day or two and will let you

    know what I think.

    I had to get my mother to take me to see this in '78 (was still underage). I thought it was such a cool movie. I've only seen it once since, on DVD. I wish it was a studio wide release.

    Photo
    Ronald Epstein
    Aug 07 2013 09:38 AM

    Just finished watching this film for the first time.

     

    I think Matt was spot-on regarding the quality of 

    this disc.  It's very sharp, and the black levels are

    immensely deep.  Excellent transfer.

     

    As for the film itself...

     

    I really enjoyed it.  I really miss the flavor of those

    70s films and this one has plenty of it.  

     

    The two scenes that Matt pointed out are the real

    highlights of this film.  This is a great flick for anyone

    into car chases.  

     

    Isabelle Adjani is just beautiful to look at.

     

    I would recommend this film.

     

    On another note: I am always amazed by these car

    chase movies and how they are filmed.  Obviously,

    a massive amount of streets were shut down in Los

    Angeles for the shoot.  And, at other times, the chases

    seemed to be done right in normal traffic.

     

    Would love to know how these car chase films are lensed

    and what goes into it to make it look so authentic.

     

    Feel bad for anyone who has to sleep at night while that

    kind of filming is commencing.

    Photo
    Charles Smith
    Aug 07 2013 09:42 AM

    I'll sound like a broken record on this, but I love this film, the car chases, and its downtown L.A. milieu as much as I love anything.

    Photo
    Charles Smith
    Aug 07 2013 09:46 AM

    And yes, I would say Isabelle Adjani was my biggest '70s-actress crush.

    Photo
    Charles Smith
    Aug 07 2013 09:47 AM

    And I had an aloof neighbor who resembled her to a very great degree.

     

    But I digress...