Director: Wych Kaosayananda
Script: Stephen Poirier
Cast: Mark Dacascos, Noelani Dacascos, Julie Condra, Alice Tantayanon, Milena Gorun, Adam Smith, Jeremy Stutes, Michael S. New
Running time: 93 minutes
The Driver is a frustrating watch, being a film that has got many elements right, but just forgot to consider one major essential element for this kind of film, namely pacing. The film starts off well, introducing us to a dystopic future where much of the world seems to be a no-go area, now occupied by zombie hordes (well, several zombies at a time, depending on what extras turned up on any given shoot day) all seemingly with very good hearing for dead things. The few humans that are left standing hold up in small enclaves and eke out an existence in whatever way they can. One such enclave is run by a pretentious, and non-acting, priest sort of guy (Adam Smith) with the help of his chief enforcer (Mark Dacascos). When one of their number betrays them to another more ruthless human enclave a fight ensues in their compound, and the zombie hordes also make an unwelcome appearance killing everyone apart from Mark and his (real) daughter, Bree, who manage to escape in his pride and joy, a BMW car.
The rest of the film charts their road-trip to find Haven, a near mythical enclave where good times await, or so they hope. Unfortunately, not only does Bree’s mum, Sharon (Julia Condra), get bitten by a zombie during the opening act, (infecting her quickly), but her dad has also been scratched in the melee, making his infection more of a slow-burn affair. He keeps this wound hidden from his daughter for as long as possible, and tries to teach her useful skills along the way, such as how to drive his car and how to shoot zombies – in the head preferably. On route they stop off to pick up some free fuel (no one’s alive to pay!), get ambushed at a road block by dodgy humans, and are repeatedly attacked by some very anti-social zombies. Is there another kind?
Sadly, it’s this middle section of the film that lets The Driver down as the director gets complacent, thinking that us, the viewer, being in the company of his two – admittedly charismatic – leads will suffice in making his film interesting. Sadly, despite Mark and Noelani’s obvious chemistry with each other, their dad and daughter day trip just isn’t enough to keep the viewer wanting more. There’s a serious lack of any real tension, which really undermines the good work that has gone before.
On the plus side, the film’s well shot, has some great production design and locations and features some good performances from a willing, enthusiastic cast. Mark also has chance to bust some cool martial arts moves during the invasion sequence. What lets The Driver down is the way in which the director has chosen to film what I’m sure on paper seemed like a good script – well, Mark Dacascos thought so! For example, most directors would have done more with the music and editing to lend the film added drama and a sense of urgency, which it doesn’t really have, and perhaps, knowing Mark’s core fans, had him doing more hand-to-hand fighting instead of just shooting people or zombies with wild abandon.
The Driver is still worth a watch, with the first section being the high point. Fortunately it picks up again towards the end, but by then many viewers may be too busy browsing their internet shopping to notice or even care.
The Driver is being distributed by Lionsgate on DVD and Digital download. There’s a couple of extras included on the disc including:
Trailers for recent releases including: The Dare, and John Wick 3: Parabellum and Angel has Fallen.
Making of The Driver (12 mins) – A decent mini documentary featuring a fairly lengthy interview with Mark Dacascos who explains his reasons for doing the film and what it was like working in Thailand and with his wife and daughter.