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Taxi Driver (1976)

TOMATOMETER

Average Rating: 9/10
Reviews Counted: 63
Fresh: 62
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: A must-see film for movie lovers, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece is as hard-hitting as it is compelling, with Robert De Niro at his best.

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 12
Fresh: 11
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: A must-see film for movie lovers, this Martin Scorsese masterpiece is as hard-hitting as it is compelling, with Robert De Niro at his best.

AUDIENCE SCORE

Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 252,315

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Movie Info

"All the animals come out at night" -- and one of them is a cabby about to snap. In Martin Scorsese's classic 1970s drama, insomniac ex-Marine Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) works the nightshift, driving his cab throughout decaying mid-'70s New York City, wishing for a "real rain" to wash the "scum" off the neon-lit streets. Chronically alone, Travis cannot connect with anyone, not even with such other cabbies as blowhard Wizard (Peter Boyle). He becomes infatuated with vapid blonde presidential … More

Rating:
R (violence, language)
Genre:
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Paul Schrader
In Theaters:
On DVD:
Jun 15, 1999
Runtime:
Columbia Pictures


Cast


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Critic Reviews for Taxi Driver

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (1) | DVD (27)

It's a powerful film and a terrific showcase for the versatility of star Robert De Niro.

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
Variety
Top Critic

Bickle is complex, intriguing and never one-note.

Full Review… | May 10, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Like Werner Herzog's Aguirre or Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver is auteurist psychodrama.

Full Review… | March 15, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

[Scorsese] seems to need scripts with well-designed humor and performers with the spirit of Ellen Burstyn to compensate for what seems to be a fundamentally depressed view of life and the belief that sobriety is the equivalent of seriousness.

Full Review… | August 30, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

New York may have changed, but Taxi Driver is as powerful and painful as ever.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Martin Scorsese's history-making scald is truly a phenomenon from another day and age. Which is to say, imagine a like-minded film of this decade killing at the box office and getting nommed for Best Picture.

Full Review… | January 4, 2005
Village Voice
Top Critic

[VIDEO ESSAY] So much of American popular culture, and modern Cinema's urban aesthetic, owes a debt to Martin Scorsese's groundbreaking fourth feature film that it is impossible to imagine a world without "Taxi Driver."

Full Review… | March 11, 2014
ColeSmithey.com

even more unnerving than his own psychotic behaviour is the easy way in which [Travis Bickle] is assimilated and integrated into the very society that he endangers.

Full Review… | July 2, 2013
Scene 360

What strikes you aren't just the iconic moments, but the little ones.

Full Review… | April 29, 2013
Time Out Chicago

Taxi Driver is a brilliant study of alienation, obsession, paranoia and perverse desire. There's an undeniable power and grittiness that very few films have come close to capturing since.

Full Review… | July 4, 2011
Cinema Autopsy

Scorsese's masterpiece of urban alienation...

Full Review… | May 18, 2011
Total Film

A haunting, visceral trip through the mind of a man on the edge of his own sanity.

Full Review… | May 16, 2011
IGN DVD

This is an extraordinary film. De Niro in the central role delivers one of those powerhouse performances that simply blows the audience away.

Full Review… | May 16, 2011
Eye for Film

Melodramatic as it often is, the film is a riveting watch and De Niro provides a character study it is impossible to forget.

Full Review… | May 13, 2011
This is London

The bustling helter-skelter of Scorsese's Mean Streets gives way to a measured, chilly calm, and cinematographer Michael Chapman ensures the Big Apple glistens with barely concealed menace.

Full Review… | May 12, 2011
Radio Times

Hitchcockian unease permeates the film, but so too does a Godardian use of space and a Bressonian focus on obsession heighten the mounting sense of dread.

Full Review… | March 17, 2011
Slant Magazine

Portrait of a very disturbed man; NOT for kids.

Full Review… | January 1, 2011
Common Sense Media

... a portrait in psychosis and dislocation with a protagonist whose racism and intolerance becomes his excuse to unleash his anger in a violent spree under the guise of heroism.

Full Review… | December 6, 2009
Turner Classic Movies Online

Writer Paul Schrader and director Martin Scorsese made names for themselves with this exquisitely crafted window into the contemporary male psyche. Taxi Driver seems aimless, taking as many u-turns and detours as a cabby does in the night. But it's

Full Review… | November 4, 2009

Martin Scorsese's masterly Taxi Driver both encapsulates and transcends its times.

Full Review… | February 12, 2008
Observer [UK]

If you haven't seen Taxi Driver, your education in film hasn't even begun.

Full Review… | February 12, 2008
Film4

Get in and take a nightmare ride on perhaps Scorsese's best picture, the story of Vietnam vet Travis Bickle's fight to win the woman of his dreams in the seedy Big Apple.

Full Review… | March 15, 2007

Audience Reviews for Taxi Driver

Now regarded as a cinematic classic, I have to admit that Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" was always a film that left me as isolated as it's lead character. The first time I saw it, I thought it vastly overrated. Admittedly, I was in my teens at this point and never managed to fully grasp it's themes. With each viewing it, admittedly, grew in stature but I could never really get over my initial judgement. It's not often that I'll backtrack on my opinion but I have now come full circle and can appreciate just how good a film it is and why it's regarded as one of the true greats of American cinema.

Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) is a lonely, mentally unstable taxi driver who scours New York City every night where he becomes increasingly disgusted with the seedy cesspool around him. He attempts to strike up a connection with local presidential campaign worker, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) but when that falls flat, he takes it upon himself to change things and fails again in an assassination attempt on the Senator himself (Leonard Harris). Determined to make a difference, he turns his mind to rescuing Iris (Jodie Foster), a preadolescent prostitute from the clutches of her pimp and lover, Sport (Harvey Keitel).

Opening with Bernard Herrmann's distinctive and sleazy score, we are thrust into the nightlife of New York City where there's a blaze of neon light reflected on the streets and rainswept windscreens. The grim debauchery of the city's nightlife is captured to perfection by Michael Chapman's striking cinematography. As much as Herrmann and Chapman play a major part in the proceedings, though, so too does the unsettling delivery of DeNiro in a bravura show of restraint and suggestion. The film wastes no time in introducing us to his iconic Travis Bickle: a 26 year old, Vietnam veteran and insomniac who struggles to socially connect. This truly is one of DeNiro's finest moments onscreen. He would receive, a well deserved, Oscar nomination and to actually win the award would not have been out of place either. It's a captivating performance and it's hard to avert your eyes from his intensity. Speaking of eyes, it's easy to lose count of the amount of times that DeNiro acts with them alone. At times, he doesn't even need to speak as his eyes, either directly or indirectly, speak volumes. We often get a glimpse of them as he observes the city's inhabitants through his rear view mirror and there's a lot going on. Behind them, a simmering menace and desperation are so expressively captured and Scorsese is wise to focus on them. Essentially Travis' eyes are our own in this debauched and immoral world of degenerates. Even DeNiro's (now infamous) "You talkin' to me?" ad-lib stems from him observing himself in the mirror and playing out his deranged fantasies. Whether intentional or not, Scorsese's use of mirrors play quite a significant part in reflecting Travis' alienation and paranoid psychosis.

As for the Big Apple itself, Scorsese has regularly been known for his ability to capture it in the minutest detail but "Taxi Driver" has to be the most descriptive he's ever been. Through Travis' perspective, he depicts it as a nightmarish, hell on earth; the steam rising from the street vents and crime and prostitution at every corner. This is a city that's depicted with dark and repugnant depths as the dirt and grime oozes from it's pores. Our troubled protagonist struggles to come to term with it as we observe his increasing frustration and distance. We feel his alienation and through his diary entries we are allowed to hear his innermost thoughts. It's unnerving to see Travis' decent and the dangerous fragility of his mental health. When he finally attests to having "... some bad ideas in my head", we realise that the depravity of this environment is dangerously permeating this man's psyche.

At one point Travis is compared the lyrics of Kris Kristofferson's song He's a Pilgrim: "... a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.
Taking every wrong direction on his lonley way back home" which is cleverly dropped in at an early point in the film but only makes complete sense when his odyssey is over. It's moments like this that only serve as a reminder of the layers in Paul Schrader's script. This isn't simply about one man's struggle with society but an astute, psychological character study that ambiguously treads a fine line between redemption and damnation while leaving us to question our interpretation of events. The denouement is particularly interesting and although Schrader himself has stated that the closing "could be spliced to the first frame, and the movie started all over again" suggesting that what we've witnessed falls more into the damnation element of Travis, there also exists a sequence that could arguably be claimed as redemptive which would leave Travis Bickle as on of cinema's most intriguing (and contradictory) anti-hero's.

Almost 40 years on and now firmly part of American film culture, this still has as much staying power as it had upon its release. It's just a shame that it's taken me all of 20 years to fully appreciate it. A reappraisal of this film was always a major requirement of mine but by going into it with a more open mind, I can honestly say that I feel I have experienced "Taxi Driver" as if it was my first time and that experience was, simply, magnificent.

Mark Walker

More
MrMarakai
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

Travis Bickle: Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up.

"He's a lonely forgotten man desperate to prove he's alive."

Taxi Driver is a phenomenal film. It's Martin Scorsese's first masterpiece and one that stands up as one of his best films, if not his best, after decades of great filmmaking. This is where all the promise of his first three films, Who's That Knocking at my Door?, Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets, is fully realized. Taxi Driver is great on many levels. It's a gritty character study, that has elements of a former soldier trying to adjust back into normal society. 

Travis Bickel is a Vietnam War vet who takes the night shift as a taxi driver in New York because he can't sleep at night. You could also call him a stalker. There's a woman, Betsy, who works for a presidential campaign that infatuates Travis and he makes sure he meets her. Then there's the twelve year old prostitute that makes Travis snap and seek out the people who control her. It's a slow build as Travis slowly loses his human side completely. 

There's a great cast of young actors in the early years of their career here. Robert De Niro, Cybil Shepherd, Albert Brooks, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Peter Boyle; it doesn't get a whole lot better than that. Robert De Niro gives a haunting portrayal of Travis Bickel and his role here still stands as one of the best of his career. The other standout is the young Jodie Foster, who was always able to play extremely mature young women, as she did in The Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. 

Taxi Driver is a film that cannot go unseen. It's widely considered one of the greatest American movies of all-time and there's good reason for that. There's so many reasons to watch this movie. From Scorsese to Paul Schrader's script to Robert De Niro, it's a film that has it all. 

More
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here. . . .

De Niro's first huge effort. Monumental, really. Assassin or savior? Life works on little twists of fate or circumstance sometimes. De Niro's final journey toward healing is one of the most harrowing sequences in movie history. What an intense acting job. Jodi Foster's great future acting career is assured.

More
binky013
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

½

All I kept thinking was insanity is not a new movie theme!

More
Tomassgringo
Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

Taxi Driver Quotes


Sport:
Ahhhhhh! I'm gut shot!
– Submitted by Jesse K (11 months ago)
Iris:
Didn't you ever hear of women's lib?
– Submitted by Lilya S (13 months ago)
Travis Bickle:
Don't be a whore, you're only 12 years old, Go home!
– Submitted by Jesse K (17 months ago)
Travis Bickle:
I don't know. That's about the dumbest thing I ever heard.
– Submitted by Garrett C (19 months ago)
Travis Bickle:
You talkin' to me?
– Submitted by Dutch E (19 months ago)
Travis Bickle:
You're only as healthy as you feel.
– Submitted by Kia M (20 months ago)

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