REVIEW: Wheelman (2017) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Wheelman (2017)

Rated: R
Run Time: 85 Minutes
What To Expect: A gimmick movie, where everything is filmed from inside the car – it doesn’t work because of this

If you’re going to try the gimmick of filming an entire (most of it) action/thriller from inside a vehicle, you really need another gimmick on top of that.  Maybe even two, such as some type of big and interesting narrative twist and a unique sense of speed that you can only experience inside hurtling car.  We don’t really get either here, unfortunately.

Frank Grillo plays the title character, who must deliver two criminals to a bank heist, then make good their escape as they leave with $200,000+. Soon however, he is threatened by his ‘handler’ to leave the two thieves as they load the loot into the car, which he does, only to fall into a rabbit’s hole of gangster feuding over ownership of the money, as he is caught in the crossfire.

Few movies make this type of thing work.  Vehicle 19, starring the late Paul Walker, pretty much tried the same thing.  That was a disaster.  Locke starring Tom Hardy was another recent one, it’s decent, if you don’t expect much going in.  This one is caught somewhere in the middle.  It relies heavily on Frank Grillo’s brilliant and natural acting alongside little else other than a moody and gritty atmosphere.

Aside from that, it doesn’t really work.  Mostly because of the tangled story, which is worsened because it’s basically told through an iPhone in hands-free mode – all of it.  There’s a lot of ‘where’s my fucking money’ over the course of 85 minutes, and very little chase action — and I don’t think the director came in with any real ideas on how to get the adrenaline going using this technique.

So, this film is not bad.  It’s just disappointing.