Starring: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason
Director: Hal Needham
Running Time: 96 mins
Smokey And The Bandit is an American film about a rebellious man who is hired to escort a truck full of beer across numerous states, but his reckless driving leaves him being chased down by half of America’s police.
This may just be a ninety minute-long car chase across the Deep South, but it’s a seriously entertaining film. Thanks to a fully rebellious and reckless tone that ties into the light-hearted and carefree sense of humour, Smokey And The Bandit is an absolutely delightful watch. It may be a little short on story or character development, but when a film can put a smile on your face for the entire runtime, that’s a job well done.
Let’s start with what I liked most about Smokey And The Bandit, and that was the performances, which are fantastic across the board. Burt Reynolds, like always, is infectiously likeable as the rebellious Bandit, charismatically getting himself out of tight spots with the law and zooming off in his Trans Am, making him the perfect hero for the film.
However, it’s not just Reynolds. In the supporting role, Sally Field is also great. Although her character isn’t particularly interesting, nor does she have much to do, she manages to make the most of it by shining in early sparring scenes with the Bandit, and managing to hold her own and be just as entertaining alongside Reynolds.
Meanwhile, Jackie Gleason, who plays the Texan cop desperately crossing state after state to apprehend the Bandit, is hilarious. He’s got a brilliantly funny relationship with his son, who accompanies him on the chase, but it’s the way that Gleason puts across that insanely short temper that Sheriff Buford T. Justice (what a name!) has that makes him such a laugh to watch.
Away from the actors, this is also a really well-directed movie. Like I said, this is effectively a 90 minute car chase, but Hal Needham does an amazing job at keeping it exciting and fresh. Apart from the beautiful shots of the Pontiac Trans Am roaring down the highway at 110mph, the action here is always fun to watch, and never feels tired, which, when the film really doesn’t have much development, is a great achievement.
Also, Smokey And The Bandit pulls off that rebellious, carefree atmosphere perfectly. Combining with Reynolds’ performance, Needham makes all the madness and destruction that happens here simply fun to watch. There’s never a point here where I wanted to slow down and realise that what the Bandit was doing was wrong, because I didn’t care! The reckless aspect of the film was so much fun to watch, and that’s what made it really stand out from being just a simple car chase movie.
Overall, I really liked Smokey And The Bandit. Sure, it’s not got too much of a story or impressive character development, but with some great performances, brilliant directing and a hugely entertaining rebellious tone to it, you’ll love every minute of this, and that’s why it gets a 7.7 from me.