Saturday, February 4, 2012

Movie Review: DRIVE

Title: Drive
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Actor(s): Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan
Language: English

Rated: R
Genre: Action/Drama

Theme: heist-gone-wrong, stunt/getaway driver
Runtime: 100 mins

DVD Release Date:
31 January 2012

My Rating:
3 1/2 stars

Synopsis: Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver for movies by day and moonlights as a wheelman for criminals by night. Though a loner by nature, “Driver” can’t help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband. After a heist goes wrong, Driver finds himself driving defense for the girl he loves, tailgated by a syndicate of deadly serious criminals (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman). Soon he realizes the gangsters are after more than the bag of cash and is forced to shift gears and go on the offense.

**The Following Review May Contain SPOILERS**

My Review: I had no plans to review this movie because I had very low expectations going into watching it. It was sort of a Ryan Gosling weekend-- I had just watched Crazy Stupid Love with a girlfriend of mine (which is a great romantic comedy that I highly recommend). The next night I popped in Ides of March (also starring George Clooney) which was not a bad movie, but I'm not big into politics so it was one of those films that was good but not enough to add to my collection. I was supposed to watch In Time next (still plan to) but Drive was just sitting there and I thought to myself, Mia, if you don't watch it now, it will just sit there until you're forced to return it. Why not finish the weekend with Ryan Gosling and get it over with?

Drive completely caught me by surprise. Based upon the trailer and plot summaries such as the one above, I went into the movie thinking it was going to be just another typical action film along the lines of Fast and the Furious and The Transporter. I couldn't have been more wrong. Ryan Gosling plays a character only known as "Driver". By day he is a stuntman driver in movies and works on cars at a shop owned by his only/older friend named Shannon. At night he offers his services as a getaway driver to clients who need speedy exits after unsavory activities (such as robbing places). The opening sequence is set up by Driver's simple rules:

"There's a hundred streets in this city. You don't need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you're on your own. Do you understand?"

The chase scene that follows is unlike anything I've ever experienced before in an action car film. As the driver starts to navigate his clients through the dark streets with the police following behind, I was sitting there waiting for Ryan Gosling to start spewing cheesy one liners that Vin Diesel or Jason Statham and other action stars have become famous for. I was waiting for the suspenseful music to start pumping. I was waiting for---SOMETHING familiar to happen on the screen. Instead, the scene was done in almost complete silence, except for the sound of the police through his scanner and his own car radio. This technique built suspense way more than the normal high speed chases we see in movies. I found myself holding my breath at every turn. Talk about intense!

While the opening sequence was an amazing chase scene, the rest of the movie plays out more like a drama with the main focal point on characterization. Driver is a lonely, introverted man that seems to only feel alive when he is doing dare devil stunts on movie sets or taking the risk of getting caught every time he accepts a "getaway" side job at night. The feelings he develops for Irene and her son are foreign to him--driver's background is never really revealed in the movie, but you get the impression that he had an unhappy childhood or rough upbringing that has molded him into the man we see onscreen.

Although many people think the elevator scene is the turning point in the film (and in many ways it is) for me it's the motel scene with Christina Hendricks' character, Blanche. Up until then we know him as a lonely, under-the-radar type character. But this new development shows that he is an angry man, that under that cool exterior is suppressed rage just waiting to be unleashed.

There were a few things going on in this film that had me a bit confused. However, I eventually made peace with these issues once I connected the dots. Driver had a distinct jacket with a scorpion emblem on the back. He rarely takes it off, even when it's covered in blood and he walks onto one of the movie sets in front of people. I at first thought that was a bit unrealistic but after watching this movie a 2nd time, I realize that Driver is not your normal man. I'm not saying he is supernatural or anything like that, but he definitely has some hero-esque qualities about him. Like Superman with his cape, Driver has his jacket.

The music and font chosen for the credits were two other oddities that had me scratching my head at first. There was a lot of pop songs in the movie done in the style of the 80's or early 90's-- definitely not something you would expect out of an action film. The font at the beginning and end credits is done in cursive and is a hot pink color. Again, let me remind you, this is not your typical action movie.

I originally gave Drive a 4 star rating but after watching it a 2nd time with my boyfriend and father, I knocked it down to a 3.5. Here's why. My only major gripe with this film is the very long periods of silence. I know this sounds weird and it's hard to describe what I mean but there are many scenes where Driver and Irene just stare at each other-- or Irene would ask him a question and it would take him forever to answer back. This goes on a lot during the film and may be annoying for some viewers who have short attention spans. I won't lie, it even annoyed me the first time around because I put the movie on real late at night and had trouble with keeping my eyes open during those scenes. BUT, I do GET it. I know this was purposely done by the director. There are moments of awkward silence and just when you think nothing is going on and let your guard down, all hell breaks loose. Someone is shot, or stabbed-- you get the point. So in a way, you are rewarded for your patience. This works for me but others may find this annoying.

My other issue is more of some errors that my boyfriend and father pointed out because they are car men. In the beginning, Driver uses a Chevy Impala which are automatics. During the chase scene, my father pointed out that the car was shifting gears as if it was a stick shift and Driver had his hands on the wheel the whole time. This may sound trivial, but now I find it annoying since my boyfriend has a stick shift and I know what a car sounds like when it's shifting gears. Also, there was a scene where Driver hits another car head on TWICE and his headlights are completely fine and intact. Again, I never noticed it before, but now that I know it's there, it's annoying!

If you are looking for an action/drama that doesn't quite follow the normal Hollywood formula, then give Drive a chance. If you like art house films, then this is DEFINITELY a film you need to see!

Other Thoughts: I'm not a huge fan of movie tie-in books, but apparently the one for Drive by Dave Sallis is pretty good. Also, there is this really cool interview with the director of Drive that gives you details on how he even came up with the idea to make this film-- which Ryan Gosling had a big part of. You can read the interview HERE.


  1. Oh I REALLLY want to see that movie! Great review :)
    (I love spoilers) & Ryan, which only makes me want to see it more.

    I liked Crazy, Stupid Love too!

    La Belle Coeur

    1. Hi Kelly! Thanks for the compliment! I loved Crazy Stupid Love too and although Ryan Gosling is not my normal "type" when it comes to hunky men, there definitely is something sexy about him! He is a very good actor :)

      If you are a big Ryan Gosling fan, you should check out an older movie he starred in called The Believer. He plays a Jewish Nazi-- yeah sounds like an oxymoron, right? You can check it out HERE!

      Anyway, thank you!

      Mia at The Muses Circle

  2. LOVED that movie. I only saw it because Ryan Gosling was involved but loved it so much I bought it as soon as I was able.

    1. Hey Deva!

      I know! Drive is such a good movie! I wish people would give it a chance. I read an article somewhere that a woman is suing the studio that made the trailer because she felt it was misleading. *rolls eyes* I think people like that need to get a life lol.

      Anyway, glad you liked it!

      Mia :D

  3. I didn’t mind the silence in Drive because it leaves the viewer to decide how they feel about the scene sequence. Music is supposed to set the tone for a film, but in this case, I think it was perfect for the nameless driver of few words and a lot of mystery. My boyfriend was eager to watch Drive because he thought it would be like every other action flick, so when I found out from a co-worker at DISH that DISH has it in HD, my boyfriend and I shared a movie night with Drive. Drive is definitely unexpected and although it didn’t have mindless explosions, my boyfriend still enjoyed it. I loved the synth-pop soundtrack of Drive and I’ve already added it to my workout playlist (great for strength training).