Wheelman is a slick, lean thriller that achieves almost everything it sets out to do, and benefits greatly from it’s central gimmick. The film follows a getaway driver (Frank Grillo) who’s put in a compromising situation when he’s forced to navigate through a mafia plot in order to save his family. The gimmick, of course, is that a majority of the film is just Grillo talking to people in a car, and while it’s a concept that’s been seen before, the film’s lean 82 minutes maximizes it’s potential as a very well made B-movie.
The film keeps the viewer guessing at every point, and the story never gets too complicated that it undermines the adrenaline and intensity of the filmmaking. Yet, the film’s greatest strength is Grillo, who gives a commanding performance that’s demanding of attention in every scene; it’s a role that requires the audience to invest within the lead character in every scene, and Grillo provides a compelling dramatic, yet surprisingly vulnerable performance. It’s a great thrill ride, an expert depiction of a simple concept, and a huge genre win for Netflix. Grade: B+