Movie Review - Drive (2011)

Drive is very much in the same vein as Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher trilogy. It features characters involved in the drug world, the mob world and the crime world in general. Drive stars Ryan Gosling (The Notebook and Crazy, Stupid, Love) as a nameless stunt driver for the movies and part-time mechanic. He hardly ever speaks. He's prone to participating in illegal activities and he has a very, very violent streak.

For more information about this character, I suggest reading James Sallis' book of the same name. Oscar-nominated writer Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove) adapted this movie from that book, but Amini left much to be desired about whom this nameless stunt driver is, what he likes, what he dislikes, where he comes from, how he was raised, etc. The audience is left to guess at these details, which is a futile exercise. Therefore, the audience will never truly know him.

I suppose that that's meant to make him mysterious and sexy, but rather someone with whom we can't connect and quite frankly about whom we can't much care. At the end, I really wasn't bothered whether he lived or died. I never saw Refn's Pusher films, but I did see the Danish director's Bronson (2008). That film had more fun delving into its protagonist's psyche and background. That film provided more character insight. All that is lacking here.

What we have instead is a couple of underwhelming car sequences, one of which is a car chase that wasn't too impressive, especially in the wake of Fast Five. We also get a soundtrack that sounded like it was ripped from the 80s. We get Refn's delight in slow motion shots. We get a slightly interesting if awkward love triangle that perked me up from my seat, but even that doesn't get enough treatment to warrant my caring.

People make mention of the performance of Albert Brooks. His character of Bernie Rose has a turn here that's creepy and somewhat powerful, but I've seen so many characters like him in other gangster or mobster movies that I was a bit underwhelmed. Bryan Cranston was more intriguing to me. This is Cranston's fourth, major motion picture appearance so far in 2011. Cranston was a far better supporting character, if minimally used.

Someone else who was minimally used was Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch and The Nativity Story). His role as Standard Gabriel, the third wheel in the love triangle mentioned earlier, was my favorite part of the film. He actually has a better role as written than Gosling. Carey Mulligan who plays Irene, the girl in between the two men is forgettable.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 40 mins.


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