Paul Schrader’s directorial debut is an artistic triumph. Schrader has transformed a carefully researched original screenplay penned by him and his brother Leonard into a powerful, gritty, seamless profile of three automobile assembly line workers banging their heads against the monotony and corruption that is the factory system.
It is a picture about the monotony and routine of factory life that isn’t monotonous, but is realistic. Regardless of where individual scenes are set – at the after-work tavern, at a bowling alley, at a worker’s home, in the union headquarters, or in a Detroit street – the factory dominates every frame of this film.
The film’s three stars – Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto – all turn in outstanding and disciplined performances.
Plot centers around the three workers’ attempts to confront and battle the reality of this system as Schrader views it. The three devise a plan to rob the union, which in the end turns into another helpless action.