I’ve been flip-flopping over the past day on whether or not to review this movie. I watched it in chunks while working at the movie theater, and I might have missed a grand total of about ten minutes of it, and those minutes were in the beginning and middle. I feel as though I saw enough of it to have a relatively strong opinion of it, compared to a lot of other movies I kind of half-watched, but was still pissed at myself for missing some of it. I figured that since Wolfgang and I agreed on enjoying the movie, I’d give you guys a full review of it, rather than one of those half-assed reviews I’ve been putting up lately. As a warning, there will be spoilers, so if you’re interested in this movie, I recommend seeing it and then coming back to read this review.
The first step in my process of becoming Ryan Gosling will be to buy some of them gloves. That’s a good starting point, right?
Ryan Gosling plays the character named “Driver”, not to be confused with the actress Minnie Driver. I don’t think they’re related? Anyways, Gosling is a driver for both illegal activities as well as for stunts in major motion pictures. He sparks a somewhat intimate relationship with his neighbor, played by Carey Mulligan, whose husband is in prison. Sadly for the two, the husband is released early, but hasn’t been able to keep his criminal past behind him. The husband is pressured into doing one last robbery, and Gosling offers his assistance in order to make sure that nothing happens to the family. The robbery results in the husband getting shot, and now Gosling has a million dollars, which he wants nothing to do with. The rest of the film shows Gosling figuring out whose money it is, how to give it back, and how to cut all ties to the events that happened, as well as wanting to ensure the safety of Mulligan’s character and her son. Rather than type out the ending right here, since it’s not some big action sequence or anything, I’m going to cut this part short and say it doesn’t end quite the way you expect.
Always good to see Bryan Cranston with hair.
Unfortunately this is one of those movies that the more and more someone tries to defend, the more and more pretentious that person sounds. Throwing around terms like “neo-noir”, “art house film”, or “avant-garde” tell nothing about the movie, but rather confuse and annoy the person who hears these terms. There’s such a vague idea of what elements are present in films with those descriptive terms that I don’t feel it’s fair to say any of those labels should be considered a genre. The strange thing is, I can’t really describe the tone of this movie other than using those words, so it’s a contradiction. One thing I can point out is that there isn’t really one element of this movie that stands out as far as why it’s so entertaining. The characters, the direction, the story, etc. are all relatively generic, but it’s really the combination of all these things that build the atmosphere of Drive. Remove one thing from the equation and the whole house of cards would come crumbling.
Christina Hendricks showed us her rare talent of going from classy to skanky more quickly than the car in this film goes from 0 to 60.
Friendly reminder: I KNOW THAT THIS ISN’T A UNIQUE, OR ORIGINAL MOVIE, AND IT BORROWED TONS OF THINGS FROM OTHER MOVIES. Ryan Gosling was awesome, as usual, as someone who seemed to be completely detached from and apathetic to reality. You got a sense of mania building right under the surface, you just didn’t know when it would surface. Considering this movie had the disclaimer of “strong brutal, bloody violence”, I was a little nervous for the first hour, but then when we had our first Gosling outburst, it scared the shit out of me. And that was only a verbal outburst, which was clearly only hinting at what was brewing below the surface. Which reminds me, there’s really only about half a dozen scenes of violence, but considering the director consulted Gaspar Noé, director of Irreversible, the intensity was based on the realism of the violence as opposed to frequency. I found it kind of amusing that three members of the supporting cast could be described as “That guy from Breaking Bad“, “That guy from Sons of Anarchy“, or “That girl from Mad Men“. Of course you know that I meant Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, and Christina Hendricks, but none of their characters had that many lines. The biggest, and probably most important role in this movie was the city of L.A. itself. The crime, the anonymity, the glamour, all came together and made it seem as though this story and these characters could only exist there and nowhere else. The use of cell phones obviously made us aware that it was contemporary L.A., but the gloss over everything, from the character’s wardrobes to all of the musical choices gave a feeling of shallowness and sleaze to everything that was going on, and added an element of cheese to Gosling’s character.
SPOILER ALERT: He doesn’t hammer the nail into the guys head. Which is good, because I learned from Mythbusters that it wouldn’t have worked anyway.
Ultimately I’d have to say that this movie worked well because of the elements it borrowed from other films and the way they were incorporated and the juxtaposition it caused. The credits themselves were even bright pink, in a font that reminded you or something like Sixteen Candles. The plot of this movie sounds like something that Charles Bronson or Patrick Swayze could have been in, and those names aren’t regularly used along with the term “noir”. This film managed to not only leave you with a sense of hope, showing how Gosling was so driven to do what needed to be done, but also left you with a feeling of hopelessness, as to say that this film didn’t quite have a happy ending. And can you believe that for a movie called Drive, there are barely any car chases? Fine with me! I’d say that if you took musical cues and sense of real world detachment from Lars and the Real Girl, give him an intense desire for revenge like Old Boy, and the plot of something like Death Wish, and you get this movie. And I can’t wait to see it again and see if I like it even more.
Wolfman Moon Scale