The plot to Wheelman has been done before. If you look at movies like Faster or Drive, they kinda have similar plots but each are their own animal. The same thing applies to Wheelman.
In this case, star Frank Grillo stars as Wheelman, (that’s all you need to know) a getaway driver who’s only there to do one thing: drive. That’s it, no more no less. On this particular night he receives a call from some guy telling him to leave the guys he’s driving because they’re going to kill him. Of course, like any normal person would do, Wheelman ditches the assholes and is set on finding out what is going on. From the moment Wheelman leaves the guys who are supposed to kill him, the movie doesn’t let up. The caller on the other end threatens to put Wheelman’s family in danger if he doesn’t drop off the money the two assholes from earlier stole. At the same time he has to find out who is setting him up and has to find a way to get his family out of danger. That’s the movie in a nutshell.
Clocking in at a fast 82 minutes, Wheelman is all about the tension. You’re going through every single minute with Wheelman and hope he comes out of this alive. Now you shouldn’t expect a balls-out action movie. While it does have action scenes, this is a character driven movie more so than anything else.
Like the movie Locke with Tom Hardy, Wheelman is a one-man show and Frank Grillo brings it with his intensity. Grillo is what Mickey Rourke probably could’ve been if not for his strange behavior and strange plastic surgery. Grillo has cut his teeth in small roles on TV (The Shield and Prison Break) and also had a great turn in Joe Carnahan’s (who also produced Wheelman) The Grey. He showed range and vulnerability underneath the tough guy image he was portraying in that movie and in Wheelman he’s able to show what he can do. It would be nice if Netflix signed him to a multi-picture deal for more of these type of movies.
Director Jeremy Rush does a great job in speeding things along and for this being his first feature film, he handles the movie like a veteran director. The action isn’t choppy at all and the camera stays with the car almost the whole time which is a novel idea with this kind of movie. Here’s hoping he gets a lot more work in the future and especially more pairings with Grillo and Carnahan.
Wheelman is out today on Netflix and should be watched, especially if you’re into character-driven, original thrillers.