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Wheelman Is Wheely Bad

It seems that Netflix will pick up any film that is pitched. That seems to be the case for actor Frank Grillo’s latest feature, Wheelman, as it will be released onto the streaming platform. Grillo and Jeremy Rush’s production studio, WARPARTY, has filmed it’s first project- and it’s not good. Open on a disgruntled and ill-tempered Grillo griping about the coloring of the getaway car before taking off into the dark and abandoned streets of Boston. Cinematography is often shot at a dizzying worm’s-eyed view, giving the illusion that the viewer is riding in the passenger’s seat as Grillo snarls into the earpiece of his headphones as call after phone call is received during his heist. When asked about his name, the Wheelman (Grillo) insists that he goes by no other name. With a criminal history and time spent behind bars, his identity is refused to be given. The Wheelman struggles through his own existential crisis as he deals with 13-year-old daughter Katie (Caitlin Carmichael) and ex-wife (Wendy Moiniz.) Multiple overcrossing phone calls from two different manipulators cause a tangle of confusion as the Wheelman abandons the men he’d supposed drive away after they rob a bank that same night. In addition to his attempts to ration with handlers that torture him, he frantically tries to reach his partner, Clay (Garrett Dillahunt,) to clarify the situation and where the hundred thousands of dollars looted will be transferred to. The Wheelman competes with Baby Driver though can’t exactly match the charming likability of the film. It’s frustrating to watch, as the Wheelman fails to communicate with his family and his machinates. Often, scenes result in heated screaming matches and lewd exchanges as the F-bomb is used a counted number of two hundred and eighty-six times. The plot is disconnected, as characters often come and go bereft introduction or explanation. At one point the Wheelman is pursued by an armed motorcyclist, who after ending up colliding midst high-speed hunt, is never heard or seen from again. Understanding the debt that he owes the Philadelphia mafia after they’d protected his family whilst he’d been behind bars, another moral dilemma arises.  It’s inferred, but the Wheelman was a drag racer, and instructs his daughter to take his Porsche and drive “like she was on the track” to her extended family’s home for safety. Katie argues for a brief period of time before complying and masterfully maneuvering the car through a local parking garage. At the end of the film, she takes over as her father’s getaway driver, which is confusing and illogical. The Wheelman is the high-action, repulsive, heist movie that no one asked for, even if there is a sequel confirmed by Grillo. It only took nineteen days to shoot, and it’s evident. Even if Grillo had performed most of the driving himself, his final product is underwhelming at best.

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