Taxi Driver

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.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 83

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 259,695
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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 campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), who agrees to a date and then spurns Travis when he cluelessly takes her to a porno movie. After an encounter with a malevolent fare (played by Scorsese), the increasingly paranoid Travis begins to condition (and arm) himself for his imagined destiny, a mission that mutates from assassinating Betsy's candidate, Charles Palatine (Leonard Harris), to violently "saving" teen hooker Iris (Jodie Foster) from her pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel). Travis' bloodbath turns him into a media hero; but has it truly calmed his mind? Written by Paul Schrader, Taxi Driver is an homage to and reworking of cinematic influences, a study of individual psychosis, and an acute diagnosis of the latently violent, media-fixated Vietnam era. Scorsese and Schrader structure Travis' mission to save Iris as a film noir version of John Ford's late Western The Searchers (1956), aligning Travis with a mythology of American heroism while exposing that myth's obsessively violent underpinnings. Yet Travis' military record and assassination attempt, as well as Palatine's political platitudes, also ground Taxi Driver in its historical moment of American in the 1970s. Employing such techniques as Godardian jump cuts and ellipses, expressive camera moves and angles, and garish colors, all punctuated by Bernard Herrmann's eerie final score (finished the day he died), Scorsese presents a Manhattan skewed through Travis' point-of-view, where De Niro's now-famous "You talkin' to me" improv becomes one more sign of Travis' madness. Shot during a New York summer heat wave and garbage strike, Taxi Driver got into trouble with the MPAA for its violence. Scorsese desaturated the color in the final shoot-out and got an R, and Taxi Driver surprised its unenthusiastic studio by becoming a box-office hit. Released in the Bicentennial year, after Vietnam, Watergate, and attention-getting attempts on President Ford's life, Taxi Driver's intense portrait of a man and a society unhinged spoke resonantly to the mid-'70s audience -- too resonantly in the case of attempted Reagan assassin and Foster fan John W. Hinckley. Taxi Driver went on to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, but it lost the Best Picture Oscar to the more comforting Rocky. Anchored by De Niro's disturbing embodiment of "God's lonely man," Taxi Driver remains a striking milestone of both Scorsese's career and 1970s Hollywood. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

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Cast

Robert De Niro
as Travis Bickle
Leonard Harris
as Palantine
Martin Scorsese
as Passenger
Frank Adu
as Angry Black Man
Diahnne Abbott
as Concession Girl
Gino Ardito
as Policeman at Rally
Garth Avery
as Iris' Friend
Harry Cohn
as Cabby in Bellmore
Copper Cunningham
as Hooker in Cab
Brenda Dickson
as Soap Opera Woman
Beau Kayser
as Soap Opera Man
Harry Fischler
as Dispatcher
Nat Grant
as Stick-up Man
Richard Higgs
as Tall Secret Service Man
Vic Magnotta
as Secret Service Photographer
Bob Maroff
as Mafioso
Norman Matlock
as Charlie T
Bill Minkin
as Tom's Assistant
Murray Moston
as Iris' Time Keeper
Gene Palma
as Street Drummer
Carey Poe
as Campaign Worker
Robin Utt
as Campaign Worker
Peter Savage
as The John
Robert Shields
as Palantine Aide
Ralph S. Singleton
as TV Interviewer
Joe Spinell
as Personnel Officer
Maria Turner
as Angry Hooker on Street
Debbie Morgan
as Girl at Columbus Circle
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Critic Reviews for Taxi Driver

All Critics (83) | Top Critics (18)

  • No other film has ever dramatized urban indifference so powerfully; at first, here, it's horrifyingly funny, and then just horrifying.

    Sep 6, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Martin Scorsese's unflinching plunge into the darkest recesses of the human soul feels painfully relevant.

    Feb 6, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • This is a wholly remarkable film, flaws and all. In fact, even the flaws are significant.

    Feb 17, 2016 | Full Review…

    Derek Malcolm

    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • De Niro ... manages to be as sad as he is frightening. From his general discomfort with others and his feeble attempts at communication, it's possible to recognize the root cause of Travis' inner distress as a terrible longing for approval.

    Feb 8, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a powerful film and a terrific showcase for the versatility of star Robert De Niro.

    Feb 23, 2012 | Full Review…

    A.D. Murphy

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

    May 13, 2011 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for Taxi Driver

  • Jul 21, 2016
    9/10/2017 - An amazing character study about a lonely and mentally unstable man who decides to do something about the "filth" in his city.
    Peter B Super Reviewer
  • May 23, 2016
    A brilliant psychoanalysis of a disturbed individual, Taxi Driver is masterfully directed and showcases the career-defining performance of Robert De Niro, and remains just as poignant and hard-hitting as it was back then.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 07, 2016
    Upon revisiting this film for a college course I realized a few things; One being that Robert De Niro may have never given a better performance than Travis Bickle, two being that this film was way more ahead of its time than many 70's noir thrillers, and three being Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time. Sure all things many people knew already, but for some reason didn't resonate with me the first time. Taxi Driver tells the unfortunate story of Travis Bickle, an ex-marine just returning from his time in Vietnam who struggles to cope with paranoid psychosis in 1970's New York. Beginning and ending with trippy colors and stylish music from Bernard Hermann, Taxi Driver gets under your skin only when it wants to and in the most in opportune times. It succeeds in giving you the uncomfortable feeling and anguish most associated with noir and it does so in fashion. Bickle's skepticism and cynical view of New York City is perfectly portrayed by De Niro as we root for him the entire length of the movie. All of this tends to get him into trouble, but we don't care, because we are so sucked into Bickle's every move and every word that we don't tend to notice just how insane he has become. Of course, the film is iconic for its famous "You talkin to me?" line and its brutally violent climax, but its Scorsese's direction of De Niro's performance I will remember most. With this film comes plenty of questions as to whether or not any of it is actually real or not, which in most cases is valid. But I don't really care one way or another. No matter what, this is a tragic tale of a man lost in a world that he doesn't understand and a world that doesn't understand him. Whether or not the engaging narration is misleading is up to interpretation, but I just know that it's a wonderfully intricate story of a troubled Taxi Driver. If De Niro's encapsulating performance isn't enough for you than perhaps Scorsese's brilliant direction and Bernard Hermann's hauntingly beautiful and stylish score will be. Taxi Driver is a masterpiece. +De Niro is an all-time best +Scorsese's meticulous direction +Engaging in an unfortunately tragic way +Score +Noir way ahead of its time 9.5/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Feb 05, 2016
    By far in my opinion Scorsese's best film! This film affected me on a personal level. Great acting, perfectly written plot and set pieces with Robert De Niro at what is probably his best. Taxi Driver is a masterpiece in cinema and requires viewing!
    Mr N Super Reviewer

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