You can stream it right now on Netflix. It’s worth watching just to see the vintage Porsche 911 Carrera RS in action.
Films like Drive, Getaway and Edgar Wright’s slick car chase flick Baby Driver have effectively revived the getaway driver movie genre, offering grittier alternatives to the far-fetched lunacy of the Fast & Furious series. Netflix is now capitalizing on this trend with the release of Wheelman by first-time director Jeremy Rush, a Netflix original thriller which is available exclusively through the online streaming service. Frank Grillo plays a nameless getaway driver who is out on a routine job when he receives a mysterious phone call from an unknown caller.
He orders the driver to take the money and leave the robbers behind or else they’ll kill him. After the heist goes wrong, things then take a dark turn as the stranger barks commands through the phone and threatens the wheelman’s family if he doesn’t oblige. It’s hardly an original premise – films like Getaway starring Ethan Hawke featured a very similar plot.
But what sets Wheelman apart is the unique way it’s filmed. The camera very rarely leaves the car, creating a feeling of claustrophobia as Grillo is effectively trapped inside the car. The relentless tension never lets up. Keeping the camera in the car also helps elevate the short but sweet action chase scenes by making them much more immersive, thrilling, and visceral compared to the disorientating quick cut editing that plagues too many modern movies. And yes, the driving stunts were all done practically in homage to classic 1970s car chase movies like Walter Hill’s The Driver. Gearheads will also appreciate the cars featured in Wheelman.
Most of the film takes place inside a black BMW M3, which, in a running joke, isn’t a very conspicuous getaway car as it has a bright red trunk. Eventually we learn that the wheelman races a vintage 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS in his spare time to hone his driving skills, which we get to see in action towards the end of the film. Our only criticism is the overuse of profanity in the script – Grillo apparently drops the f-bomb over 200 times in the film’s short 80-minute runtime. Other than that, Wheelman is a gritty getaway driving thriller that’s well worth a watch.