By the end of The Driver you can almost smell rubber burning, there are so many screeching tires. This may be the first film where the star of the show isn’t an actor or even a machine but a sound effect.
Ryan O’Neal plays a master getaway driver who does most of his talking with his accelerator toe. Bruce Dern, departing only slightly from his maniac roles, plays an obsessed detective out to nab O’Neal. Isabelle Adjani is another reticent character, a gambler hired as an alibi for O’Neal. Ronee Blakely, in a supporting role, portrays O’Neal’s connection; she sets up the jobs.
There’s not much more to the plot than that. O’Neal is a great driver and Dern is a detective. They’re enemies and one of them is going to win the game.
Director Walter Hill and stunt coordinator Everett Creach have engineered a number of car chases and they are fabulous, if you like car chases.
Because of the quiet and mysterious mood of this picture, it has a pretentious quality to it. Whenever someone does speak, the dialog seems precious, as if the last sentence of each speech were edited out.