Zombie plagues have become, ironically, a plague. TV shows, films, video games, comics, it seems like you can’t turn around without finding another zombie product coming over the horizon. In a world full of zombie entertainment you’ve got to do something different to stand out. So when I saw that The Driver was a Thai made film, and starring martial arts legend Mark Dacascos and his family, I thought this one might be worth taking a shot on. I was wrong.
If you took The Walking Dead and removed the quality of writing, took away the special effects, and hired people who can’t act well you’d have The Driver. That might sound quite harsh, but there was so little in this film to keep me interested that the 90 minute run time felt about twice as long, despite only really having enough content to fill about half that time.
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The film follows The Driver (Dacascos), who is living with his family in a small compound with other survivors a number of years after civilisation fell due to a zombie apocalypse. When the compund comes under attack, The Driver’s wife (Julie Condra) is killed, leaving him to care for his daughter Bree (Noelani Dacascos) alone. The two of them set out on a journey together to try to reach Haven, a supposedly safe colony they’ve heard about in whispers.
The first half of the film focuses on the life The Driver and his family have within their community, one that he’s feeling less and less confident about. Despite the dangers outside their walls he feels that it would be safer to leave, and is proven right when they’re betrayed from within. Like I’d said earlier in the review, there are so many zombie stories around that the first half of the film follows a formula that I’m sure you’ll be familiar with. Sadly, this echoes the rest of the film, as everything that happens has been done before.
Unoriginality doesn’t have to be a bad thing, there are lots of stories that tread similar ground to others, yet manage to be engaging and entertaining, but one of the biggest problems with The Driver is that no one seems too interested. Considering how much Dacascos talks about how he loved the story in the making-of feature on the disc it’s surprising he didn’t bring any of that passion to the film itself. He seemed more excited to talk about the film than being in the film.
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Probably the biggest let down, however, is the casting of Dacascos himself. He’s a good actor when used in the right projects, and I’ve seen some amazing fight scenes in film and TV that he’s been a part of, but here he feels wasted. Most of the action scenes have him shooting zombies from a distance, and the one sequence where he does get to use his fighting skills, fighting some raiders, is one of the worst fight scenes I’ve seen him do.
There was potential for The Driver to be something really different, to stand out from the crowded zombie market, but it let me down in every way. I wanted an exciting zombie martial arts film, something that didn’t have to be brilliant, but was fun; instead, I found myself desperate for the film to finish.