'Getaway Driver' Review: Captive and Captive's Unlikely Heartfelt Bond | Sundance 2023
Director Sing J. Lee hides the emotional story of two men in Crime Story.
Sometimes you read a story in the news and you know someone is going to make a movie with it. Such was the case in the story that inspired the getaway driver, which began near Little Saigon in Orange County. Getaway Driver follows an old man named Lang, played by Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, who works as a driver. Late at night, after he's already changed into his pajamas, he gets a job-seeking call from a man named Tây (played by Dustin Nguyen). Promising to pay double, Long met Tây at the ABC supermarket on Bolsa Avenue and soon became embroiled in Tây and his associates.
Long learns too late that Tây and his two friends are escaped criminals and need to escape. If you know Long's story in real life, you know how this story ends for Long and Tây, but if you don't, the setup can seem wacky at times. Director and co-writer Sing J. Lee has crafted a polished story, one that doesn't rely too much on Condition. Instead, it focuses on the relationship between these two Vietnamese men. Known for his music videos with artists such as Migos, Donald Glover, Rich Brian and Alicia Keys, Lee brings a unique style to the film. Dip it in moody colors and dark shadows, and there are often moments when Driver feels out of touch with 80s Hong Kong cinema.
Visually compelling, the film's core story is a story of connection. Both Long and Tây are Vietnamese immigrants who have been hit hard in their lives. Far from the stereotypical tropes of the model minority, these two men represent characters we've never seen on screen before. Dragon is a lonely man. He is a veteran and a survivor of a POW camp in Vietnam. He was estranged from his children and wife for 20 years. In the United States, he had difficulty communicating with children who did not speak Vietnamese and clashed with his assimilated family members.
For Tây, he found a kinship. Tây is in prison for drug trafficking and other crimes, but deep inside he nice guy. As his accomplice treats Lang like a hostage, Ty forms a bond with the old man through their shared language. Although gradually becoming more public, Tây's interactions with Long speak to their upbringing, with younger men respecting and caring for older men. While we know he's a criminal, it's clear Tây is protective of Long.
Hiệp Trần Nghĩa is excellent as Long, who speaks mainly Vietnamese with Tây. While he starts out mild, as the story unfolds, we learn more about his past and see more of his personality. Hiệp has a thoughtful approach to the older man and is able to act even in the scenes where he doesn't speak. Likewise, Nguyen deserves credit as Tây, who struggles throughout the film between doing the right thing or what's convenient. Nguyen feels as naturally cool as Tây, who is usually the coolest of the three fugitives. As the bond between the two grows stronger, we also see a softer, more vulnerable side of the character beyond his icy exterior.
Although there are several scenes at the end of The Accidental Getaway Driver It's overly dramatic, including a scene on the beach that feels completely out of place, and overall Lee's first-time feature is a strong one. Careful storytelling is strongest when weaving together quiet vignettes of Long's past and present, as well as his future with Tây. By the end of the film, the film, which on the surface looks a lot like Collateral, is actually much more personal, reminding us as human beings of the unlikely bond we can share together, finding a home and family that will never Too late to exceed the normal boundaries of expectations.