Director: Walter Hill
I'm doing some prep work as SGH and I are in talks to do a podcast on Drive from about a decade ago. At the time Drive came out, a lot of folks said "oh, this is influenced by The Driver from 1978." And I'd always meant to go check that movie out.
I think it's a definitive "well, maybe kinda sorta". They are absolutely both movies about career criminal getaway drivers in LA. Both are neo-noir. But this is like seeing a movie about an assassin and seeing the next movie about an assassin and saying "well, clearly these two movies are same".
Arguably, The Driver (1978) borrows from some of those assassin movies like Le Samourai or This Gun for Hire. Rather than a hit-man, we have a guy with no past we'll ever learn about, who has locked up his life to protect himself and perfect his chosen profession - with the mechanisms he's used to protect himself actually creating a lockbox when things go sideways. He has no friends, no family, no name. He simply exists to do the job.
The movie is clever about this - no characters have names. Everyone is a role. The Driver (Ryan O'Neal). The Detective (Bruce Dern at his Bruce Derniest). The Player (Isabella Adjani). The Connection (Ronee Blakley). And - and this is where this film deviates wildly from Drive - the film is about the game everyone is playing, openly acknowledged. It's the world's greatest ARG. There's no real stakes for the cops - win or lose, it's just spending tax dollars. But for the folks playing on the high stakes criminal side, it's jail, death or being flat broke.
Anyway - I enjoyed it. I'd watch it again. It's interesting in that it's both a bit more abstracted from a straight crime film, but also has nothing in particular that it's trying to say. It's much more about how it's presenting a concept, and I'm down with that, too. I suspect that when this came out, that approach was saying something, in itself. But we've got a lot of water between 2023 and 1978.