Drive: A Flickcharter’s Movie Review
I meant to write up my review for Drive last week when I had the film fresh on my mind, but I needed some time to mull it over and decide how I felt about it. You see, I’m a little fickle when it comes to car chase movies or movies in which automotive mastery is an integral part of the story. Films like The Fast and The Furious and its sequels don’t really do much for me, nor do films like Gone in 60 Seconds or Torque. They rely primarily on “high octane” action, which is not much more than fast, chaotic editing coupled with loud music to generate excitement. Drive, the latest film from Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher, Valhala Rising), eschews that and in turn ranks as my number two film for 2011 on Flickchart.
The film opens with Ryan Gosling explaining his code for being a getaway driver over the phone to an unknown caller. “If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours no matter what. I don’t sit in while you’re running it down; I don’t carry a gun… I drive.” And drive he does!
The first thing that stands out here is the opening “chase” in the film, which almost doesn’t count as a chase. Cool and collected, Gosling’s character weaves in and out of streets and alleyways, turning off his lights and shutting down the car at just the right moment to evade police detection. Even though we don’t see anything in the way of explosions or “high octane” action, the tension remains. When his five minutes are finally up, he ditches the car in a mall parking lot and goes on his merry way, disappearing amongst the crowd.
Truth be told, there’s not a lot in the way of action set-pieces in the film, but the ones that do exist are brutal. When people take their exit from the film, it’s not glossed over, nor does the camera really cut away. There’s a scene in particular where very little is left to the imagination, and it’s shot in slow motion so you can get all the gory details. The violence might be a bit much for some if it weren’t balanced by the lengthy interludes with Carrie Mulligan’s character, who develops a thing for Gosling through the course of the film.
Despite having relatively little to do in the film, Mulligan carries her own and has great chemistry with Gosling. There’s a scene in particular between them in an elevator that is perhaps my favorite in the film. It combines the best of the violence and romance that permeates the film and gives us a great look into Gosling’s character. It’s this scene in particular that made this film a favorite of mine.
And let’s not forget Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston or even Ron Perlman, each of whom steals the scenes they’re in. I’ve yet to see Cranston’s work in Breaking Bad – which I hear is really good – but seeing him in this has made me into an instant convert. Same with Perlman, who has a turn in Sons of Anarchy But it’s Brooks who shines here, bringing a menace to his character that’s damn near unrivaled. When him and Gosling first meet in the film, you can sense that two titans are about to clash.
Like I said before, Drive is easily within my top five films of the year and I’d be hard-pressed to find another car film that moves me quite in the way that this film did. Check it out if you get a chance. It might be right up your alley! Certainly was for me.
Drive Vs. The Fast and The Furious
The Fast and the Furious opts for editing that’s fast and lose, whereas Drive is deliberately paced and allows us to see the action that’s going on around the characters. Personally, I like to see my action and to linger instead of being bombarded by heavy editing. Drive also has the edge in the character department, which are big things for me as a viewer. And frankly, Ryan Gosling is much easier on the eyes than Paul Walker or Vin Diesel combined.
Drive ranks at #187 of #1112 on my Flickchart.