I'll admit I was feeling a smidge apprehensive about watching this. For years I've caught glances of the DVD cover and thought "Jesus, he actually looks insane" and then there's the description about him being a mentally unstable war veteran working as a night-time taxi driver. So sinister, so thought-provoking. I thought it was going to be two hours of gratuitous physical torture and elaborate murder. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a bit of torture and murder but I like mine milky with two sugars a la Midsomer Murders.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was not like that at all. I found two taglines: "On every street in every city, there's a nobody who dreams of being a somebody"; "He's a lonely forgotten man desperate to prove that he's alive" - I think the second fits better. I immediately felt pangs of empathy for the young and confusingly attractive Robert De Niro, or "Travis" as he preferred to be called here. All he wanted was to go out with Betsy, lovely sweet Betsy. But he went about it the wrong way. After a brief stint of daylight taxi stalking he approached her and she said she'd go for coffee with him. Understandable. He had a clumsy charm about him. Coffee went well. She said she'd go see a film with him. And that's where it all went wrong. He took her to see a bluie. No, Travis. Just no. Cue his mental demise - writing in his diary surrounded by the long dead flowers, the smell of which make him feel sick, that have failed to win Betsy over. He buys some guns, cobbles together a rather nifty gun-to-hand device that fits in his sleeve and starts holding his arm over a gas ring - the logic of which is lost on me. He takes it upon himself to save Iris, a teenage prostitute, from a ridiculously attired Harvey Keitel after she is wrestled out of his taxi one night. The rest of the film is pretty much him strapping guns to his body, poncing around in the mirror and standing around in crowds unsuccessfully attempting to shoot a politician.
Argh! Robert where has your hair gone?! So we're at the end of the film. A big shoot-out in the brothel where Iris does her business. Travis has already killed Harvey on his stoop outside. Or has he? Travis goes inside to save the day and rescue Iris. He shoots the first person he sees and then BANG, Harvey's only gone and bloody survived and managed to shoot Travis in the neck. That's it. His number is up. No. Twist alert. There's loads of shooting by loads of men and at the end Travis is sat on a sofa, Iris bawling in a corner, and he looks at the police who have arrived, points a hand gun (gun shape made with his hand, not a gun gun) at his temple and "shoots" it. Then his eyes roll backwards and we are left thinking he's dead. But wait. There's seven more minutes of the film left. What's going on? Well, he isn't dead. He survives and is hailed a hero by the media. Iris has gone back to her rents and they send him a letter thanking him for what he did.
There's some chat that the end isn't real. That he is in fact dead and it's his dying dream to have been portrayed in that way. Perfectly feasible, except apparently they're making a sequel. Unless it's going to be about him shooting his way through the Pearly Gates, I think there's a good chance he lived. I'm not sure how I feel about a sequel. Especially as I don't think there'll be a demise, he's just going to be highly strung the whole way through. Perhaps it is the sequel that will deliver on the fear I was feeling before watching this. Some things are best left alone, I believe this to be one of those things. It was perfect as it was. Eight on ten rating from this little lady.