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Review: Drive

26 Sep

Drive follows Ryan Gosling, known only as The Driver, through his life as a stuntman by day and a wheel man for criminals by night.  The Driver only has relationships with Shannon (Bryan Cranston), his boss at a car shop, and a young mother Irene (Carey Mulligan) who lives down the hall in his apartment building.   The majority of the movie shows the developing relationship between Irene and The Driver and it draws much of its material from the 1980s including the score, opening sequence and the relationship between Irene and the Driver.  What we find out is that Irene is actually married and her husband, Standard, is being released from jail in a week.  When Standard returns home, he brings a load of problems into his family’s and The Driver’s lives.  In an effort to help Irene, The Driver assists Standard in a heist that goes all kinds of wrong.  Soon The Driver is on the run from a crime syndicate and trying to save his friends at the same time.

Drive is not The Fast and the Furious or The Transporter.  Director Nicholas Winding Refn has directed a fair share of “action” movies (check out the Pusher trilogy) but please keep in mind that Refn is a Danish director, not an American one.  What qualifies as action inEurope is very different from what North American audiences are used to.  The pace of the movie starts slowly and builds in the last half to a gorefest that includes forks in eyes, knives in throats and heads being shot off.  BE WARNED.

Ryan Gosling is the perfect choice for a protagonist in a Refn film and you become attached to him instantly.  All Refn’s characters are painfully flawed, but there is always something redeeming and understandable about them.  The Driver is no exception; sweet and quiet one minute, explosively angry and brutal the next.   There are subtle hints that he may have had a violent past but it’s never fully explored and it’s refreshing to not have to endure yet another haunted past scenario. 

The relationship between Irene and The Driver could have been portrayed as seedy and sleazy considering she’s married, but you sympathize with their dilemma.  Carey Mulligan received a lot of praise for her role in Drive and though she’s good, it’s really Gosling who drives the movie.

Albert Brooks and Ron Pearlmen are unlikely choices for gangsters but they round out the talented cast.  My only complaint about the movie is how little you see of Christina Hendricks.  She’s there and gone before you can get attached to her. 

Drive is definitely worth seeing, just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

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