A laconic flick to be sure, The Driver gives nobody names. Bruce Dern is the snartass cop who's after the driver and even recruits bank robbers to nab him. Natch, that doesn't work. You could even say this is the quintessential Hill flick (although I am very partial to Trespass), since dialogue is overshadowed by car chases and all the other stuff manipulative people (cops and criminals both) do to make their place in the world. What dialogue there is wastes no words, just like the plot wastes no time on what could be a possible romance (O'Neal and French lovely Isabelle Adjani), instead having the two of them partner up for a lot of dough--knowing glances, yeah, but no gooey stuff.
Ronee Blakley is also here in a smaller role as another great looking go-between for the driver, but she's not on screen a lot, and there's never even the faintest hint of any hanky-panky between them.
This is not only one of the best Hill flicks, but without question one of the best American action films ever made. The recent drivel, I mean, Driven, with Stallone deserves to crash and burn, while The Driver--tight as a drum and slick as greased lightning--is a red hot roadster of a film.
See it when you need a serious revving up.
You know you're in for someone's ego-trip attempt at The Great American Existentialist Film when the characters have no names, just labels -- "The Driver", "The Player", "The Cop", etc.
It becomes more obvious when every other bit of dialog is a dry, "clever" bit of cynicism.
And it's right there in your face when the major plot revelation in the film is that people don't always do what they "always do".
It's far from awful -- Hill is a decent if overrated writer/director. I mean, he's working the same vein as Leone, Peckinpah and Siegel, just not in as rich a part of the ore.
Well worth seeing for the transitory fun of the story and the incredible driving sequences -- comparable to the original "Gone in 60 Seconds" or "Vanishing Point" and superior to, say "Bullitt". But most people i've known who have kept the tape, kept it they can watch that Mercedes in the garage, the chase inside the warehouse or the other driving sequences, not to revel in the story.