Netflix Original reviews: Wheelman and Gerald’s Game

wheelman gerald's game

We’re not fully sold on all of Netflix original films, but it doesn’t look like that’s deterring the streaming giant from creating more of them. In 2018 the company plans to release 80 new original films, in an attempt to avoid buying the rights to stream movies from other companies. Having said that, we had a look at two of their latest releases: Wheelman and Gerald’s Game.

Wheelman (dir. Jeremy Rush, cast: Frank Grillo, Shea Wigham): We’re not quite sure what took Frank Grillo so long to appear on our radar, but thankfully he’s on it now. There’s an everyman charm to Grillo, which helps in favor of this telling of a former convict acting as a getaway driver. Things go – of course – wrong, Grillo’s wheelman is threatened and used by an unseen force on his phone, and has to come up with a plan to survive the night.

The big gimmick here is that for most of its duration Wheelman keeps the camera inside the car, as the action happens outside of it. This works for the most part, as Grillo convincingly conveys his character’s increasing desperation, and makes us root for him to survive.

The big comparison point here is Locke, which follows Tom Hardy’s driver as his life unravels, and keeps the camera firmly in the car as well. In comparison this is more of a pulpy film, also boasting a fun supporting turn by Shea wigham. Wheelman doesn’t make it to the finish line in one piece, as it runs out of -uh- gas by the time you hit the third act, but since the movie itself is only 82 minutes, that’s not a big deal.

Gerald’s Game (dir. Mike Flanagan, cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood): It’s a good year for adaptations of Stephen King’s novel, as Gerald’s Game – in which Carla Gugino’s stuck chained to a bed after her husband has a heart attack during a sex game – proves. Don’t expect IT type scares, this is more of a psychological exercise.

We went in expecting something like Buried, with Gugino’s character trying different scenarios to escape her perilous situation. That didn’t prove to be the case, with the movie serving as more of a moving examination of why some people choose to be victims. At times the movie movie into a mawkish direction, but Gugino keeps it all together.

Don’t expect the movie to finish strong however. In typical Stephen King fashion, there’s an odd coda to the story which should’ve been left off all together. It doesn’t ruin the movie, luckily.

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