There's not point in dancing around it or waiting to get to the point. Wheelman is one of the best action movies of 2017 and is now a must watch for any fan of cars, guns and/or all around very cool movies. First time director Jeremy Rush, with the help of producer Joe Carnahan (The Grey) and star Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Solider) has crafted a truly superb, fast-paced, stylish and truly entertaining action flick that does not disappoint.
In Netflix's upcoming Wheelman, Frank Grillo stars as the nameless wheelman, much like Ryan Gosling's character in Drive. Name or no name, Grillo plays a getaway driver who starts out his night thinking this is going to be a standard night. Drive bad guys to the crime, make the drop, get out clean. The night quickly turns out to be anything but as he is thrust into a high stakes race-to-survive after a bank robbery goes terribly wrong. Now he has a car full of money and his family's safety is on the line. The clock is ticking to figure out who double-crossed him and the only person he can trust is his thirteen-year-old daughter, Kaitlin (Caitlin Carmichael). In order to survive the night and ensure his family's safety he has to think fast and drive even faster.
Usually, when a movie clocks in at less than 90-minutes in length, it is a bad sign. Wheelman clocks in at a very brisk 82 minutes. However, this is a rare exception to that rule. Jeremy Rush doesn't waste a second of screen time and gives us exactly what we need. Much of that is attributed to the slavish devotion to a singular perspective in this movie, which is shot almost entirely from the vantage point of the car. Inside the car or mounted on the exterior, we are seeing all of these events unfold from a singular point of view and Wheelman is all the better for it. This is a truly stylish action flick that just doesn't come around all that often. The perspective helps make all of the action more pulse-pounding and truly great to watch. Rush is likely to have a very bright future ahead of him. This does not feel like a feature film debut from a writer/director.
In addition to the fantastic direction from Jeremy Rush, we have the duo of Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan Good things happen when these guys work together and Wheelman is no exception. For his part, Carnahan clearly helped guide this movie from behind-the-scenes and was a very hands on producer. His DNA is on this movie, but not so much that it gets in the way of Rush's own style. As for Grillo, this is a career best performance from him. He's been in plenty of great action movies in the past, but the camera doesn't leave him for a second of Wheelman's runtime. It rides or dies by his performance and he absolutely nails it. At it's heart, Wheelman is a father/daughter story that just so happens to be wrapped in a getaway movie. Grillo nails the father figure part of it and the gritty action star element in equal measure.
Every element needed for a great action movie is here. Cool cars, guns, great chase sequences and a great setting.
Wheelman takes us through the streets of Boston in a way that makes the city a character just as much as any actual actor in it. The sound mix is outstanding and the way in which this movie was shot truly makes you feel the action when it happens. Perhaps the only real shame is that this movie is going to be a Netflix exclusive, which means that most people won't get to experience it in a theater. It is a movie that really benefits from a theatrical experience. Just find a friend with a really big TV and a nice soundsystem, if you can.
Wheelman may not reinvent the wheel, so to speak, but it does feel like a blend of a pulpy, 70s crime movie with the best sensibilities of a moder action movie. It might be a bit much to say it's a modern classic, but this is an enjoyable ride that gets your blood pumping. Guaranteed, we'll be keeping an eye out for what Jeremy Rush does next.