A getaway driver (Frank Grillo) is double-crossed during a bank robbery gone wrong. With his family on the line, he races to find out exactly who betrayed him before time runs out.
It’s been an interesting year for Netflix as they’ve been expanding their catalog of original films. Their roster includes hits like the brilliant satire “Okja” and the suspenseful “Gerald’s Game,” but also features duds such as “Death Note” and “War Machine.”
Netflix’s latest release, “Wheelman,” is one of the many released this year that’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a middle-of-the-road film that viewers can watch to pass the time when they have nothing else to do.
The film has a simple premise. It never attempts to take itself seriously like “Drive” and never becomes too goofy like “The Transporter” series. The one unique trait that the film has is that most of the film’s point of view is limited to the car that Frank Grillo’s nameless character, Wheelman, drives throughout the film. If the camera can’t see any of the action from inside the car or attached to the exterior of the car, it isn’t shown — a similar effect used in the opening sequence of “Drive.”
It feels as though writer/director Jeremy Rush chose to do the film this way, since there isn’t an action sequence that stands out. They all start to feel the same when they are all filmed with the same gimmick of only being seen by the Wheelman inside the car. Wheelman is put into a dangerous situation, he shifts some gears, the threat is either neutralized or escaped and the Wheelman gets a call by the antagonist and they throw insults at each other.
However, that’s not to say the film is in any way insufferable. In fact, if there is one aspect that stands out, it would be Grillo’s acting chops. The character of the Wheelman himself isn’t that interesting, but Grillo’s ability to give him a more grounded characteristics prove him to be an underrated actor who should hopefully be given more complex characters in the future. This ability is most apparent when Wheelman is on the phone with his daughter (Caitlin Carmichael) where he sells the character’s struggle to maintain a connection with her.
“Wheelman” is the kind of flick that could’ve been an underground hit in the 80 or 90s video rental store scene, but instead is one that will be easily missed as users scroll past it in the endless sea of generic titles in Netflix’s video library. It’s an inoffensive film that will entertain you for an hour-and-a-half, but you’ll quickly forget about it as soon as the credits roll.