The Driver on DVD

Sunday, 12 October 2014 23:00 Written by 

The Driver - mini-series out now on DVDDavid Morrissey stars in this three-part BBC thriller about a taxi driver who moonlights for dangerous criminals. Cabbie Vince McKee is bored and frustrated with his thankless job and feeling disconnected from his family. Then his mate Col (Ian Hart - "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone") is released from prison and suggests Vince joins him in a life of crime, driving for gang boss The Horse (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: TNG and Deep Space Nine).

Thrilled by his dare-devil secret role, Vince cannot believe his luck: The jobs are easy and the pay is amazing, but then the stakes rise and things start to go disastrously wrong. The mini-series was directed by Jamie Payne (Doctor Who, Call the Midwife), and written by Daniel Brocklehurt and Jim Poyser (Shameless). Claudie Blakley (Lark Rise to Candleford) plays Vince's wife Ros, and Sacha Parkinson (Coronation Street) is his daughter Katie.

The series opens very strongly, with a flash-forwards to Vince trying to outrun and outfox the police through the streets of Manchester. This short car chase is exhilaratingly shot and conveys the thrill and change of pace that Vince has been desperately seeking in his ordinary life.

Morrissey (The Walking Dead, The 7.39, Doctor Who) puts in another sterling performance as a family man trying to reinvigorate his marriage and give his daughter everything she desires. Vince struggles with the dilemma of balancing his familial responsibilities on the one hand, and carrying on his illicit, selfish side-project on the other. He soon realises that the two are mutually exclusive, and Morrissey's full acting range is put on show.

The supporting cast are also good, though the three-hour duration of the series does not really give the characters and their relationships enough room to breathe. Some of the plot elements feel thoroughly undernourished, especially one concerning the McKee's son who has left home and cut himself off to live in a strange commune.

Harish Patel deserves a special mention as Amjad, the very tolerant owner of the taxi firm. His character injects some badly-needed humour into otherwise rather dour proceedings.

Although the series features a few more thrilling scenes like the opening car chase, it never quite lives up to that early promise. The remaining vehicular action is underwhelming and too infrequent, and the sense of danger falls sadly short of boiling point. One senses the TV-scale budget constrained the programme makers' ambitions.

What we are left with is a solid if uninspiring and rather too predictable tale that comes nowhere near its professed aim of being a mini, British Breaking Bad.

Special features include two brief behind-the-scenes featurettes (totalling 13 minutes) and a couple of galleries.

The Driver (2014) is out now on DVD, courtesy of RLJ Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 180 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £17.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

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