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November 14, 2017

The Grand Tradition of Silent Drivers

These are the people you want driving your Uber.

For as chatty as drivers in the real world are, they’re a quiet crew in cinema. Baby Driver and Drive certainly weren’t the first of their kind to draw attention to the minimalism you could find in a film when your lead was a strong and silent type, but they pulled from traditions set down by Walter Hill and Jean-Pierre Melville.

This getaway driver archetype, explored by Patrick Willems in a video essay, is one that replaces the action hero’s guns or martial arts prowess with the instrument of the vehicle. Automotive perfection means that dialogue and characterization come from driving, not words – just like we know Jackie Chan’s characters are goofballs because of his tightly-controlled style of slapstick fighting.

Understanding where these films come from and the underlying psychologies underneath is the first step you have to take to graduate from someone that wants to order that scorpion jacket off eBay to someone that understands that silent getaway drivers are almost always (like good action heroes) people too complex to be boiled down to a prop. Don’t buy the jacket, ok?

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