I Saw A Film Today… Drive

Initially Drive did not leave much of an impression upon me when I heard the premise. A dark and brooding getaway driver who gets mixed up in some gang/mafia activity. The only thing that was missing was Jason Statham in the lead role instead of Ryan Gosling. But then I began to hear voices. They were saying things like “Oscar worthy” and “best film I’ve seen all year”. This peaked my interest. And that has been why the last week I have been really excited about seeing it. I even deprived myself of clips, trailers, images, etc. in order to let the film surprise me. So did it pay off?

******

Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt driver for the Hollywood film industry and a mechanic during the day with his friend Shannon (Bryan Cranson). But when the sun goes down, he participates in a whole new line of work. If you need a getaway driver, he’s your guy for the job. Outside of this life, Driver lives an isolated life.

Until he starts to get to know his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son. All seems to be developing romantically between the two adults until Irene’s husband Standard (Oscar Issacs) comes home from his stint in prison. But with his release from prison he also bring troubles that threatens to bring pain to his family. In order to settle a debt with people who protected him in prison, Standard must rob a pawn shop.

Driver decides to step in and help Standard in his robbery. But things go terribly wrong when Standard is killed by the pawn shop owner. Now Driver has money that doesn’t belong to him and it turns out that it belongs to people closer to him that he thought. Now what will he do to protect Irene?

Out of all the films this year, Drive is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s an action film that doesn’t focus on action but more on the story, a rarity today. I’ve heard people compare it to classic action films like Bullitt, which I honestly don’t see being too far off. Although this film is more violent than the classic. I don’t remember Steve McQueen brutally curb stomping a guy’s head in while in an elevator. Drive definitely earns its ‘R’ rating, which is a good thing.

Since this is my first Nicolas Winding Refn film, I was really impressed with his directing style. His depiction of Los Angeles feels like a gritty noir film but not overdone. It’s dark but vibrant at the same time. And the soundtrack has some of the best pop songs I’ve heard lately and matches the mood of the film perfectly. I look forward to adding Refn’s other films Bronson and Valhalla Rising to my Netflix que. Or Qwikster. Or Failure. Whatever they call it now.

I’ve always been a little harsh on Ryan Gosling. When referring to him, I’ve always called him “The Notebook guy”. But I now realize that this was unwarranted. The man is simply great in this film. He’s dark and brooding like most action film stars but flips it on its head. I mean he does the unthinkable: he smiles more than once! I only hope this level of skill is also present in the upcoming political drama The Ides of March.

As for the rest of the cast, they are great. I love that Carey Mulligan decided to take this role. She is one of the best young actresses working today and her performance here is proof. The most surprising casting was Albert Brooks as a gritty and violent mob boss. Not just because he was the voice of the father in Finding Nemo but because he is so frightfully good.

I hope that Drive becomes a benchmark for future action films, like when the Bourne films made shaky and gritty camera work the norm. More story and less stunts? Seems like a bright future to me.

Also, that white satin jacket is awesome. I seriously want one.

Update: I got one.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Comments? Opinions? Leave them below.

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2 Responses to “I Saw A Film Today… Drive”

  1. I feel a little bit guilty saying that Drive needed more driving. When the action comes it is tense and artfully done without shying away from the extreme violence, but that all starts to go away as soon as the characters start talking, or sighing and looking at each other. Nice review Kevin.

  2. I really enjoyed this film, and the opening car chase is one of the smartest I’ve seen. I definitely want Gosling to be my get-away driver if I ever need to run from the cops. But I’m not riding with him in any elevators!

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