Wheelman

The vaguely familiar Frank Grillo makes a classy and economical pitch at booting a Stallone/Van-Damme/Strachan tough-guy franchise. Director-writer Jeremy Rush has mashed Locke with Driver. As a car-chase movie, like nearly every car-chase movie other than Bullitt, it’s a fail. It seems you’re just not allowed to drive cars fast in Hollywood unless you’re Steve McQueen – and faking it has never worked. Movies that survive this gauntlet work as thrillers rather than under-resourced action movies.

Getaway driver Grillo is a patsy in a robbery gone wrong, with most of the drama in the first hour provided by Grillo’s anguished dialogues with hostile disembodied voices. These build in our mind’s eye a map of an environment in perilous flux. The maze of dimly lit streets the hero must improvise his way through illustrates his inner turmoil well.

The story finds a resolution in an overfamiliar place, but otherwise this is a staunch, underdog venture.

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