An Enigmatic Masterpiece5/10
If a picture is worth a thousand words then this movie (moving picture) is worth a million words, which is why it has probably generated at least a million words.
What can one say. The obvious: that "Taxi Driver" is great, it is. That it is a masterpiece, it is. What sets this film apart from so many other films, including great films, is that it is an enigma. Every time I watch this film I see something else, I notice something else, I feel something else, I wonder something else. And I am, clearly, not the only one who reacts to the film this way that is why it lends itself to endless speculation and discussion.
Since so many positive reviews have been made, rather than add my own red hot glowing review I thought I would address those people who have written that they don't like "Taxi Driver" because, they say, they find it dull and boring, hard to follow, etc. These people miss some important points about the film.
ONE, "Taxi Driver" is NOT an action film. If you want an action film watch "Die Hard" and its numerous sequels, or "Lethal Weapon" and its sequels, not to mention "Rambo" and thousands of other "action flicks." Nothing wrong with them, per se. Nothing wrong with liking them either. But is wrong to put down "Taxi Driver" because of what it is not.
TWO, "Taxi Driver" is about loneliness and loneliness is characterized by an almost crushing boredom and emptiness and Travis Bickle's character reflects that. His life is dull and boring, hardly anything happens to him and that is what "Taxi Driver" shows - Bickle's pathetic life.
THREE, some people say that they don't understand the plot, Bickle's attitudes and behaviour, etc. But that is because "Taxi Driver" is about a man who is profoundly emotionally disturbed although he (and his buddies) don't seem to know it. His actions aren't rational because he isn't rational. His actions make no sense because he makes no sense. Offhand, I can't think of any other film that has depicted mental illness as well as "Taxi Driver" and no film that attempts to show the world as seen by someone like Travis Bickle.
There you go: three reasons to address the most common criticisms of the film with one notable exception, its controversial ending, but THAT is a whole topic in itself which is just more proof of why "Taxi Driver" is so worthwhile - when viewers aren't sure what actually happens in the end (Is Travis hallucinating as he is dying? Is that what the slow moving overhead tracking shot suggests? Or does he really become a hero in the media and get realeased back into the world with his buddies? Etc, etc.) The questions and issues raised by "Taxi Driver" just go one and on.
Now if after reading the above you still don't think "Taxi Driver" is a great film, I can't help you. I am NOT saying you have to like (or love) "Taxi Driver" just appreciate it or at least acknowledge its greatness even if it isn't your cup of tea. Actually, I don't love "Taxi Driver" because it doesn't lend itself to love. It is too disturbing a picture precisely because it is way too close to reality, it cuts too close to the bone for my comfort (or rather, discomfort). It is not comfortable to watch because it isn't supposed to be. So if "Taxi Driver" makes you feel uncomfortable and uneasy it should because real life is uncomfortable and uneasy (unless you are born rich or something).
Finally, after watching it again for the nth time I have begun to notice (and feel) just how smooth "Taxi Driver" is. The overall feel and flow of the film is incredibly smooth in which not only each scene but each and every movement and gesture flows into the other imperceptibly. Sometimes I play back scences and sequences over and over to catch how it happens. In fact, I see it happening and still can't quite figure out how it is done but I have a hunch - DeNiro. DeNiro is just amazing in this film. If you haven't done it already, watch it with the remote in your hand and play some of the scenes in slow motion and you will SEE what I am talking about. Only DeNiro could do what he does. The sheer minimalism of his performance is just stunning. How he gets so much from so little never ceases to amaze me. DeNiro's performance in "Taxi Driver" only reminds me of what sports announcer Curt Gowdy exclaimed after one of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson's incredible plays in the 1970 World Series,"This guy is another world!"