Fresh from winning his first Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actor” in “The Godfather Part II,” Robert De Niro reunited with Martin Scorsese (one of my favorite filmmakers) since they first collaborated in “Mean Streets.” There second project is to translate a screenplay written by Paul Schrader on the big screen. The script is about a Vietnam War veteran recently discharged, applies for a job as a cab driver to cope with his insomnia. As he works a late-night shift, the driver realizes New York is in unstable condition due to post-Watergate scandal affecting the population as crime wave becomes very high. Because of his mental problems, he decides to take desperate measures to cleanse the scum of the Earth. The premise I’m referring to is none other than “Taxi Driver.”
Taxi Driver was released in 1976. (same year Rocky came out) It received critical acclaim from many critics (including Roger Ebert) and movie goers alike. In addition to positive reception, the film earned enough money at the box office. Taxi Driver went on to become an eligible nominee at the 50th Academy Awards including “Best Picture,” “Best Actor,” (Robert De Niro) “Best Supporting Actress” (Jodie Foster) & “Best Original Score. (Bernard Herrmann) Unfortunately, they didn’t win anything.
Several famous faces like Leonardo DiCaprio, Hideo Kojima, Keanu Reeves, Todd Phillips, Saoirse Ronan, Tom Sizemore & Quentin Tarantino cited Taxi Driver as one of their favorite films. It’s also part of The Criterion Collection on LaserDisc issued spine number 109.
Even though Taxi Driver is labeled as one of the best movies of all time. It generated controversy over Jodie Foster’s portrayal as a child prostitute. She was 12 years old at the time of filming. Not to worry people, she didn’t go overboard on her role. Only a crazy bastard like R. Kelly would force child actors/actresses to engage in screwed up scenes. In 1981, an assassin named, John Hinckley Jr. nearly assassinated Ronald Regan in a failed attempt to recreate a scene from Taxi Driver. His motivation is to impress Jodie. However, the plan backfired. I guess this pretty much explains why Jodie is into women.
There are two big reasons why I wanted to review Taxi Driver, is because Todd Phillips states that this movie alongside “Raging Bull” & “The King of Comedy” served as primary influences for Joaquin Phoenix’s upcoming Joker movie. Robert De Niro will also co-star in this movie & will reunite with Marty in “The Irishman.” Their last movie they worked on was “Casino.” By the way, Marty serves as a producer of Joker.
This review doesn’t contain any crucial SPOILERS whatsoever. Feel free to read my non-spoiler review if you haven’t got a chance to see this movie.
Fast & Slow Aspects
Fast: Robert De Niro did an excellent job for his Oscar nominated performance as Travis Bickle.
Fun Fact: To prepare for his role, Bobby actually worked full time as a cab driver and studied psychology to delve deeper into Travis’ psychosis.
Martin Scorsese did a superb job directing the film. In addition to directing, he also makes a cameo appearance as a passenger. Marty looks unrecognizable without his glasses and has a beard.
Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay and crafted a decent character study centering around Travis. Paul’s script was loosely based on himself feeling lonely, getting kicked out by AFI, spent time at porno theaters, became fascinated with firearms, a girlfriend broke up with him & the aftermath of The Watergate Scandal. YEESH! Thank God Paul endured many setbacks!
Other Cast Members such as Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks, Jodie Foster, (before she bad mouthed superhero films) Cybill Shepard & Peter Boyle (Frank Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond) all did a great job for their respective performances.
Bernard Hermann (Citizen Kane, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Psycho) orchestrated music for the film before he kicked the bucket.
Cinematography felt gorgeous without no technical problems present throughout.
Character Development involving Travis. As his arc progresses, he becomes obsessed with cleaning up “garbage in the streets.”
Primary Themes for the movie are Loneliness, Obsession, Paranoia & Mentality. Each theme is handled maturely.
Bobby actually improvised the famous line, “You talkin’ to me? Marty was silently in awe, so he kept the camera rolling.
According to Bobby, Travis’ movement is based on a crab shifting from one phase to another.
Travis’ sleeve gun felt creative for him to conceal a hidden firearm. The Assassin’s Creed franchise later used a similar trick using a blade to pop up out of the user’s wrist. Quentin Tarantino also added a sleeve gun depicted in “Django Unchained.”
Peter Boyle’s character Wizard predicted that gay marriage is acceptable, which is legal in today’s standards.
In one scene, Travis wears a red coat Bobby later wore a brighter red outfit as Rupert Pupkin in “The King of Comedy.” Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker wears a red suit inspired by Rupert Pupkin.
Slow: Despite reflecting post-Watergate, the movie is dated. Examples like the extras wore clothes back in the 70s, porno theaters were relevant before The Internet & crime wave was way outta control.
Product Placement featuring brands such as Coca-Cola, (courtesy of Sony who owns a percentage of the company) McDonald’s, Doritos, 7Up & Pepsi. I’ll let this con slide, because I couldn’t spot no other brand to shove down my throat.
The Final Verdict: A-
Taxi Driver is one of Martin Scorsese’s best films next to my personal favorites “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed” & “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Robert De Niro did a fantastic job, Martin Scorsese did a decent job among many other positive elements listed. If you’re eager to see the upcoming Joker or The Irishman, I highly recommend this movie.