There are huge blockbuster films like this year’s Avengers: Endgame that are full of exciting moments and fan service. Films full of action and explosions. Then there are films like 1976’s Taxi Driver, that have almost no action, no fan service, and are dark, disturbing pictures to witness. What makes a film like this just as good as a fun summer blockbuster? Find out in my review of Taxi Driver.
I watched Taxi Driver for the first time earlier this week. I expected a slow, more methodical film, but I did NOT expect it to be as slow as it was. The only real action scene is at the end of the movie. Nine times out of ten this would NOT work, but director Martin Scorsese finds a way to craft a very character-driven story, and it’s just as entertaining. Casting Robert de Niro as Travis Bickle was a great move, as he gives an incredibly eerie performance as the titular taxi driver. Seeing the growing darkness and corruption at the heart of New York City slowly pushes Bickle over the edge, and de Niro conveys that wonderfully.
The tone this film sets is due in large part to the score, which is fantastic. A jazz-influenced piece, the score seems relatively happy in tone, which makes it a stark contrast to what you’re actually seeing on screen. It’s a very interesting relationship between story and score, but ultimately I think it improves the film.
The cinematography is also incredible, and helps paint the dark world that Scorsese was trying to craft. Shots of the city streets, buildings and people just amplify the creepy feeling throughout the film.
Like I said, there is hardly any action in this film, so if that’s your thing, this may not be the film for you. While I thought the way this film focuses on character instead of action was good, I did find myself wondering “okay, when is this gonna pick up the pace?” For me, waiting until the very end to get the bloody showdown was a great payoff, but for others, you may get bored and bogged down with what’s going on in the story.
I wasn’t crazy about the ending. It seemed kind of jarring that this film about failure and corruption seemingly tied it up in a nice little bow. Bickle survives, becomes a hero in the eyes of the public, and even reunites with his lady? It all seems too good to be true. There is a theory that the ending sequence is actually not real, that Bickle imagined it as he’s dying after the climactic gun fight. I usually don’t like the “it’s a dream” theory, but for this film, it makes sense. It would definitely be a better ending if that were the case, in my opinion.
Summary- Taxi Driver is a slow paced film that really dives into themes of darkness and corruption. Your enjoyment of this film will depend on how well you appreciate a more character-driven narrative. For me, it works because of Scorsese’s direction, de Niro’s acting and the fantastic, dark visuals.
Please let me know if there are any films, books, TV shows, songs or anything else you would like me to review!