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Wheelman (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Wheelman

WHEELMAN (2017)

Starring Frank Grillo, Caitlin Carmichael, Garrett Dillahunt, Shea Whigham, Wendy Moniz, John Cenatiempo, Slaine, William Xifaras, Precious White, Seth Ayott, Mike Fierro, Jeffery Kincannon, Mike Koutrobis, Ken Murray, Leah Procito, Steven Rears, Jessica Rockwood and Shea Whigham.

Screenplay by Jeremy Rush.

Directed by Jeremy Rush.

Distributed by Netflix. 102 minutes. Not Rated.

I saw Baby Driver in the theaters. Twice. I loved the music, the car scenes, the romance, the style. Wheelman takes its getaway driver, “Wheelman” (played by Frank Grillo) in a whole other direction.

It is dark and rough and fast – edge of your seat for the entire runtime fast. The whole first hour of the movie was filmed in the car. The viewpoint moves from the backseat to the front seat, sometimes focused on the outside scene (they are filming these outdoor scenes from inside of the car) and sometimes on Frank Grillo’s face. The movie is tense and intimate. It feels low budget, in a really good way.

Frank Grillo’s portrayal of “Wheelman” is gruff. He is less than one year out from serving a three-year prison sentence. We learn that he is trying to repay his debt to the group that “watched over his family” while he was in prison.

He’s all business on the job, but watch his voice and demeanor change when he speaks with his 13-year-old daughter, Katie. He is trying to re-establish himself in her life, but is not living up to the needs of that role.

I don’t want to spoil even a second of this movie. I went in only knowing that my teenager really likes Frank Grillo from his work as Crossbones in the Captain America movies. I came out a full-on Frank Grillo fan.

So, instead of spoiling the story line, let me share some cool things I learned from the Q&A session that Grillo and writer/director Rush did after the screening that I went to:

Wheelman was filmed over 18 nights, in Boston, working/filming for ten hours a night. Some of those nights kept Frank Grillo in the car for eight hours straight.

The movie seriously earned its R rating with an impressive 286 uses of the word “fuck!”

A lot of the dialogue took place through phone conversations. Grillo was talking with a reader, instead of the actual actor onscreen, requiring lots of make believe and great acting for reactions.

Frank Grillo did 85% of his own driving in the movie. He was so physically and emotionally exhausted after making this film that he had to pull out of his next scheduled role to rest.

There was an incident that occurred while filming the (best scene ever) motorcycle scene leading to a real-time reaction by Frank.  (I cannot wait until Friday when this comes out on Netflix and I can watch it again!)

Jeremy Rush – the 39-year-old writer and director of Wheelman – was a Production Assistant writing scripts on the side. He kept showing people his work and caught the attention of Frank Grillo. There was little improvisation, because the scripting was really just so good.

Frank Grillo is trained as a fighter and has been fighting for a long time. He is known to make friends on location with other fighters at gyms. He is currently is working on another collaboration with Netflix, to show the culture and brotherhood of fighting that he feels goes above race or religion. The project has him traveling from country to country, learning about each country’s specialty fighting techniques, while interacting with the people in the gym. He has (so far) traveled to Brazil, Mexico, Senegal, Thailand and Myanmar working on this project.

As a final note, I called my dad on my drive home, to let him know that I had just watched what I suspect will be his new favorite movie, possibly dethroning Taken. We already have plans to watch it together this Friday.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2017 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 20, 2017.

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