Handsome visuals and a deep understanding of the human condition gives director Sing J. Lee‘s “The Accidental Getaway Driver” a moody, pensive tone and quiet spirit that makes this crime drama feel different from the rest. It’s an intense and unsettling ride, yet also one with a lovely, emotionally poignant story.
Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of Long (Hiep Tran Nghia), an elderly Vietnamese drive in Southern California. He’s ready to go home for the day but answers a late night call for a ride. The man on the other end of the line is Tây (Dustin Nguyen), and he and his friends are so desperate for a ride that they offer Long double the money if he’ll agree to pick them up. He reluctantly accepts, but then learns that the group of men in his vehicle are recently escaped convicts. They take Long hostage and hold him at gunpoint, forcing the man into being an accomplice in their getaway plan.
The film is tense but also has authentic moments of humor and kindness, especially as Tây develops a friendship with the lonely old man. The elder becomes a father figure to the younger man, and the two help each other face the ghosts of their past. There are a lot of scenes of men talking, but Lee’s screenplay (which he co-penned with Christopher Chen) is interesting and well-written (even if some of the dialogue is clunky), and the performances are compelling. Lee does a particularly skillful job capturing his character’s concern, worry, fear, and eventual realization that his captors are dangerous and that he may be harmed or killed.
You wouldn’t expect a thriller like this to be so emotionally dense, but “The Accidental Getaway Driver” is a touching, slow building drama with a story that’s well-directed and well-told.
By: Louisa Moore