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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 16.18%
Average: 4.41%
Pretty Bad: 25%
Total Crap: 5.88%

6 reviews, 32 user ratings

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by Daniel Kelly

"Not a “Drive Angry” sequel."
5 stars

“Drive” premiered several months ago at the Cannes film festival, and has been picking up steam ever since. Director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Valhalla Rising”) was awarded the coveted “best director” gong at the event, whilst the film itself just narrowly missed out on the Palme d’Or. After viewing “Drive” it becomes easy to understand why the picture made such a fierce impression. A delicate merging of arty silence and Hollywood noir, “Drive” is a subtle and supremely tense endeavour. Beautifully filmed by Winding Refn (who thoroughly deserved his big moment at Cannes), the movie is a pleasure to behold, thanks in no small part to a restrained yet incredible central turn from Ryan Gosling.

Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a stuntman by day and a getaway maestro by night. Driver excels at aiding criminals in their petty jobs, his cool head and skill behind the wheel making him the ideal accomplice. It transpires that his boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston) has managed to broker a deal with some gangsters that will allow Driver to race cars for a living, but instead the sullen motorist is more interested in his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos), forming a unique connection with this fragmented family unit. When Benicio’s father Standard (Oscar Isaac) returns from prison, he is initially suspicious of Driver, but soon turns to him for help. Standard owes a hefty amount of protection money, and has been ordered to rob a pawn shop so he can square his debts. Driver agrees to partake in the raid, chiefly to ensure Irene and Benicio’s safety, but things don’t go to plan. Standard and Driver are double crossed, leaving the latter in a web of violence and reckless evil.

Refn opens “Drive” with a phenomenally suspenseful yet refreshingly quiet chase sequence, detailing wonderfully the precision and intensity that define the feature’s central character. It’s an immersive scene from start to finish, setting up the required tone beautifully. “Drive” may involve shootouts and fast cars, but it remains a very restrained film, more reliant on its oddball soundtrack than chaotic sound design or ear shredding explosions. Refn cultivates a mood of intrigue and uncertainty, rifling through Hossein Amini’s screenplay stylishly and economically. “Drive” is a tight and highly atmospheric watch, primed with far more personality than the usual faceless multiplex fodder.

The performances are solid, with the exception being Gosling’s standout contribution. Even whilst doing very little, the actor expresses a lot, forming Driver into a monosyllabic yet complex screen entity. The film envisions Driver as an antihero from the beginning, contrasting his participation in criminal deeds with the ever warming dynamic he shares alongside Irene and Benicio. It’s a superb bit of work, understated but unquestionably meaty. Don’t be surprised if Gosling’s name echoes around Hollywood during the forthcoming Oscar season. Carey Mulligan is nearly as removed as Gosling, but still manages to permeate a lovable and sympathetic essence. Oscar Isaac and Christina Hendricks (portraying an associate of Standard’s) barely grace the picture, unfortunate given that both performers have respectable reputations. On the other hand screen veterans Brooks, Cranston and Ron Perlman (Brooks' partner in indecent behaviour) all deliver strong and memorable turns. “Drive” generally utilizes its eclectic cast well, adding extra vibrancy to Refn’s already stunningly photographed version of Los Angeles.

“Drive” doesn’t actually offer a vast amount of traditional motorway carnage, but what’s on show is still very cool. Refn shoots the action slickly and coherently, focusing on the fantastic stunts instead of soulless digital insertions. During its opening act “Drive” doesn’t offer much to offend beyond some fruity language, but the second half is a veritable bloodbath. Heads are blown apart, throats are slit and hammers are wielded in a worrisome fashion, lending “Drive” some serious edge beyond its sporadic instances of road rage. The sensitive are to be advised that Refn doesn’t hold back on the viscera and gore, in fact, by the end he aggressively revels in it. Of course it’s all just surface level coating for this moody noir, but potential audience members should be made aware of it before committing to the movie. “Drive” gets pretty brutal in parts.

Compared to Refn’s previous directorial venture “Valhalla Rising”, “Drive” is a breath of fresh air."Valhalla Rising”, whilst nobly assembled and picturesque, was a slog to get through, something that “Drive” could never be accused of during its skillfully structured 100 minutes. “Drive” is a brilliant film and a must-see for those in support of thrilling yet meditative cinematic product.

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originally posted: 09/21/11 03:17:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Festival de Cannes For more in the 2011 Festival de Cannes series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell solid imho 4 stars
11/23/13 Lord It's overrated 1 stars
3/28/13 Eggy Joe Loved the feel, look and Gosling's character 5 stars
8/05/12 Matthew Thompson Dalldorf Ryan Gosling reminded me of Paul Newman in 'Cool Hand Luke' 5 stars
8/01/12 TreeTiger Rob Gonsalves' review nails it perfectly. 2 stars
7/18/12 John P. Eastwood's silent gunslinger transformed into a noir-ish avenger 4 stars
5/30/12 Matt For the love of God, I don't get why people like this movie. TERRIBLE. 2 stars
5/25/12 Louise Loved it! And Ryan is a sight for sore eyes! 5 stars
3/21/12 Luis I thought it was pretty good 4 stars
3/11/12 g. Fantastic. 5 stars
2/09/12 Yep Solid, interesting and competant 4 stars
2/06/12 Monday Morning Slow, crude, crappy soundtrack, depressing, boring, 90% = waste of time. 2 stars
1/23/12 action movie fan heat and reservoir dogs top this feeble copy attempt hands down=dull film 2 stars
11/16/11 Steve Capell Fast watch through cars and sin! 4 stars
10/26/11 ashley rexrode boring movie. dont waste your money 1 stars
10/15/11 Roger Loved It! 5 stars
10/13/11 mr.mike Is "No bad". 4 stars
10/11/11 lin drive = shane in essence. how's that not rich in thought ? 4 stars
10/11/11 JP Ward Interesting but tonally conflicting. Sunny pop undermines dark ambience. 3 stars
10/08/11 Langano Very well done. Great mood & style. 4 stars
10/03/11 Kim Kelly Takes its time, can be intense, not for everyone.. Enjoyed Gosling as usual 3 stars
9/26/11 asg Great restraint from a damaged soul by Gosling 4 stars
9/22/11 HighNoon Did the critic really see this movie? Finally a real movie instead of mindless action film 5 stars
9/21/11 laloca lack of dialogue != deep and meaningful. a pile of emo crap. 2 stars
9/21/11 Moonshot Lotta good/lotta bad - the songs ruined it - been better off w/ more silence 3 stars
9/21/11 Elspeth R (on Wordpress) Hoorah, further kindred spirits! Why is silence and violence considered cool? 1 stars
9/20/11 HighNoon Just the best movie of 2011 5 stars
9/20/11 Goon Crappy hipster chic acted out by robots 1 stars
9/18/11 Darkstar Unbelieveably awesome movie. 10+/10 5 stars
9/17/11 John G Well-done - but, NO MICHAEL MANN IS REFN - "HEAT" "COLLATERAL" for noir defined nuff said 4 stars
9/17/11 tyler perry's tyler perrier yo peter, you just called drive "dream" in the last para. 5 stars
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  16-Sep-2011 (R)
  DVD: 31-Jan-2012


  DVD: 31-Jan-2012

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