Nightride follows Budge, a drug dealer just about to go straight and start up his own business. But first, he has to do one last sale. He drives around the city, calling the different players involved, from members of his family and friends, to his crew grabbing the gear, to the buyers he needs to make the transaction. But things very quickly go wrong and Budge finds himself in serious danger. Nightride is a one-shot thriller movie on Netflix UK. Directed by Stephen Fingleton and written by Ben Conway and stars Moe Dunford, Joana Ribeiro, and Gerard Jordan.
The plot of this film in concept appears simple, nothing new. One last job may be one of the most used premises in movies. But telling the story through this method is something I personally have never seen before. 95% of the plot takes place inside a single car as Budge drives through the city, calling the plays from the wheel. Whilst it was not intended for him to do this, events in the script are what lead him to doing this. Much of the movie is almost like a radio play as much of the events play out over the phone. Fingleton manages to make this movie incredibly nerve-wracking despite not seeing the action. Just when being stuck in the car might start to get tiresome, Budge leaves and there is some form of confrontation. These moments are fantastic and dripping with tension, twisting the story further every time.
These twists are numerous. There are multiple false endings where it would be easy to think that the true direction of the movie has been discovered. And countless times Conway flips the story once more. The emotional manipulation of the movie is painful yet beautiful. When things start going right after such a long night, hope billows from the heart. And then comes a gut punch. What might be considered the main twist around the halfway mark is a predictable one, but like with every part of this film it still packs a punch due to how it concludes. The ending is very rewarding and satisfying.
There is a core theme of love in Nightride, and that twinned with the phenomenal characters is incredibly captivating. It is the performance of Dunford that boggles the mind. The whole film focuses on him, directly on him. The camera points through the windscreen at his face so the full range of emotions is constantly displayed. In stageplays the audience is not as close to the actors’ faces as the camera is on Dunford. To be in character within a film that has no cuts and is in real-time takes incredible talent.
The protagonist is not necessarily a good person, given the fact that he is dealing drugs purely to make his own fortune. Other actions he takes in this movie are awful, reprehensible and puts others in danger. But by the end of the film, it is impossible not to love him.
Very few characters are actually seen in person. Ribeiro appears at the beginning and the end as Budge’s girlfriend Sofia. Endearing and intelligent, she has a similar moral code to Budge whilst also serving as his sole emotional rock. Jordan plays a henchman for the main antagonist, serving as the dangerous threat Budge faces on his journey. He is menacing and frightening.
Almost all the other characters are only identifiable through their voice. Even the villain, Joe, is only heard, not seen. Each character is used superbly, every single one of them has a crucial role in the initial plan and the subsequent mess afterwards. The dialogue is key and golden and the vocal performances are excellent. Sometimes there are moments of humour and brevity, and at other points it is dark and tear-jerking.
The direction and the camerawork really deserve mentioning. There is no green screen, the car is actually driving around the city. There are other cars involved in the film as well and they appear so natural. The camera is stationary whilst in the car but is handheld and mobile during the exterior moments. They capture the intensity of stand-offs and get closer as time moves on. The movements are very clever and distinct with some ingenious methods of depicting the action. There aren’t really fight scenes, but the threat of violence is almost more nail-biting.
Nightride is an unforgettable drive. Taking the one-shot concept to an extreme, this isn’t just a remarkable display of filmmaking. It is a powerful, emotive story that leaves your nerves shot by the time the credits roll. All of the actors are great but Dunford delivers something special here. To have no cuts with this much travel in it is astonishing because of the potential for things to go wrong. And yet, although a large amount of distance is covered it remains an intimate experience. I could not take my eyes off of the screen and could not stop thinking about the movie afterwards.
Nightride is available on UK Netflix only.
- Rating - 9/109/10
Nightride is an unforgettable drive. Taking the one-shot concept to an extreme, this isn’t just a remarkable display of filmmaking. It is a powerful, emotive story that leaves your nerves shot by the time the credits roll. All of the actors are great but Dunford delivers something special here.
Screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”