Even as a ‘film critic’ and being pretty on top of release dates, there are plenty of films that slip right under my nose. Whether they are old movies getting brand new, special limited collector ultra editions or new flicks all together, many get released each week. One of the latest to seemingly come out of no where, at least for me, was Mikael Salomon’s Big Driver, based off of a Stephen King short story.
On her way home from a book signing event, famous writer, Tess Thorne (Maria Bello), is advised to take a shortcut home in order to shave some precious time off of her trip. Unfortunately for her, this shortcut happens to land her a flat tire. While waiting for someone, anyone to drive by to lend a helping hand, Tess’ savior comes in the form of a giant man, driving by in his pick-up truck. It turns out this good Samaritan, however, is actually a serial killer who viciously attacks Tess and after raping her, leaves her to die in a sewer pipe. Alive, but very weakened, Tess manages to make it home where her plot of revenge begins to take shape.
Originally airing on the Lifetime television station, it’s no wonder how I missed word of this film the first time around. The plot may sound like so many other genre films before it, but Big Driver is much different than most other revenge flicks. While it starts off as a drama mystery, with creative writing and interesting characters, this one ends up getting pretty dark for a made-for-TV movie.
The entire cast of Big Driver, consisting of Maria Bello, Will Harris, Olympia Dukakis, and an appearance by Joan Jett, all did wonderfully. Never having seen Harris in any other role, I was pleasantly surprised. A giant of a man, he is surely an imposing force to look at and was the perfect fit for our main antagonist, Lester. Maria Bello was remarkable, switching from the innocent victim to the empowered revenge-seeker rather seamlessly. The character of Tess Thorne was already suffering with some mental instability, but the heinous incident really managed to push her over the edge. As one of the voices in her head, Olympia Dukakis brought an interesting character, Aunt Doreen, to light. She was the voice of reason for Tess, but also the one who helped move things along smoothly, ensuring there be no trace of what Tess was about to do.
Perhaps due to the fact that it premiered on television, Big Driver doesn’t contain as much explicit violence as films like I Spit on Your Grave or the Vengeance trilogy, but that doesn’t stop this bad boy from getting pretty brutal. I won’t say much, for hopes that you might watch the movie yourself, but I will say that good ol’ Lester definitely gets what is coming to him.
Big Driver turned out to be a great flick with a few twists and turns that, unless you’ve read the original King story, you won’t see coming. I recommend picking up a copy on DVD and Digital this Tuesday, January 27, from Lionsgate.
I give it 4 imaginary old ladies out of 5.