With The Accidental Getaway Driver, we come for the high stakes hostage thriller, but in the end we stay for this intriguing relationship.
WRITTEN BY ALEX GILSTON / JANUARY 30, 2023
A sinister Uber ride is the subject of Sing J. Lee’s feature film debut The Accidental Getaway Driver. What starts as a cut-throat fight for survival eventually transitions into a salute to the importance of family and an emotional exploration of paternal love.
Long Mã (Hiep Tran Nghia) is a taxi driver in Southern California. He decides to pick up one final job late at night. He suddenly finds himself being taken hostage, at gunpoint, by three escaped convicts who swiftly force him to get involved with helping them flee the area. As complications arise they’re all forced to hold up in a motel. Where Long Mã starts to build a relationship with Tây (Dustin Nguyen), one of the escaped prisoners. There’s an instant tension to The Accidental Getaway Driver. We are thrust into the situation as joltingly as Long Mã is. We’re constantly by his side throughout, finding out information as he does, evaluating the situation alongside him, and that helps build up a connection to him where we’re totally invested on how things turn out for him. But as Long Mã and Tây start to open up to each other about their respective experiences the tension lulls and it loses a bit of pace. It all ramps up again towards the end however when they both have to face their fate.
The Accidental Getaway Driver boasts an intrinsic performance from Hiep Tran Nghia. For a decent portion of the first half of the film he’s completely silent. His reactions are reduced to facial expressions and body language, and triumphantly so. We get the distress, and confusion, Long Mã is feeling without any dialogue at all. Dustin Nguyen is also brilliant, it’s easy to believe the weight he is feeling on the choices he’s made to get to this point, and the possible consequences he could face for it. The subtle build up of chemistry between him and Hiep Tran Nghia is greatly worked in too.
With The Accidental Getaway Driver, we come for the high stakes hostage thriller, but in the end we stay for this intriguing relationship between a non-biological father and son. The climax just deepens how important the two become for each other, and it’s reassuring to see a positive representation for this kind of relationship on screen.