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#6. Drive - Review

Drive Film Poster

Let us just bypass the puns and hyperbolic metaphors. I am not going to say that Drive is a “high octane fuel ride,” or “ Ryan Gosling puts the pedal to the metal as the Driver.” Oddly, these types of responses are what you would most likely be expecting after watching Drive’s trailer. Falsely presenting a car chase heavy action film, Drive is actually more of a kindred spirit to Le Samurai than The Transporter.

Thank God.

Drive Film PosterDrive is pure genre, pure formula, and yet, unlike anything you’re likely to see on screen, perhaps ever. While the plot is filled with overt twists and turns that you can see coming from a mile away, director Nicolas Winding Refn is fearlessly unconventional in his execution. Ryan Gosling plays the Driver, a stunt-driver by day, wheelman by night. He is a loner, either by necessity or by instinct, probably both. He is only really himself when he is behind the wheel, and if its running from the cops or escorting his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio through the streets of Los Angeles, Driver knows he is invincible when he is in a car. His boss and mentor is Shannon (Bryan Cranston), a no-luck sort that honestly believes he still has a shot at success. This impulsive optimism eventually puts both him and the Driver in bed with Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman), two tough-as-nails mobsters who leave no room for error.

The film has the same destination as most films of this sort, but it is the U-turns, dead ends, and short cuts where Drive earns its distinctiveness. The ensemble is as impressive as you knew it would be, but this is Gosling’s vehicle, and with Drive he proves he is here for good. Lacking the charisma of Bullitt’s Steve McQueen, Gosling perfectly compensates with stoicism, bringing the “man with no name” trope to new heights. When the film’s Miami Vice aesthetic is replaced by South Korean fierceness halfway through the 2nd act, Drive daringly stops being an exercise in style and becomes a brutal investigation into what it actually means to be a hero.  Let me put it to you this way, no prince ever saved his princess without slaying at least one villain. 

Drive Film PosterI knew within the opening moments of Drive that this movie was made just for me. It is a masterful example of style with substance, and director Refn along with his cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel demonstrates their expertise in genre filmmaking. Drive tackles action film etiquette without the swagger so many other directors deem necessary. The car chases are not won by who can drive the fastest, but the smartest.

Driver is an unconventional hero, and his relationships and interactions are interesting, but unorthodox. He is inspiring in his stoicism, but also truly terrifying, as he must be to succeed. In the end perhaps Benicio was right, unfortunately, there are no good sharks. 



I want to do a spoiler talk soon, so let me know how many if any of you guys have seen the film yet and if that is something you would be interested in. I should have just ignored my fight against hyperbole and started my review by saying this is without a doubt the most badass perfect film of the year,  but I restrained myself. How do you feel about Drive? Please leave any comments and click the "share" button below to help get ControllerUnplugged out there!


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Reader Comments (2)

Nice review. I loved Drive!

September 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan Speary

Thanks Man! Yeah, Drive completely blew me away, cannot imagine I will like a film more this year than this one.

October 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrandon Roberts

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