This was an awkward action car movie. Awkward because i can’t quite call it a ‘Action Car’ movie. But I liked it. I think it was the tension and the acting that got me. It had a smoldering emotional undercurrent that periodically exploded into moments of violence and revenge. But yeah, lots of smoldering.
Ryan Gosling plays Driver (yes, that’s the characters only name), a stuntman who moonlights as a Driver for heisting criminals. He’s very good as what he does, as we see in the first 10 minutes. Everything is going fine, until he notices the plain but attractive neighbor Irene, played by Carey Mulligan. She has a cute smile and a cute kid, and as The Driver soon finds out, a cute ring on her finger. Though he obviously has feelings for Irene and her son Benicio, The Driver does the gentlemanly thing when Irene’s husband shows up. The problem is, Irene’s husband ‘Standard’ (played by Oscar Isaac) brought trouble home with him. What’s a guy that has periodic dealings with gun toting goons and can flip a car when the director yells ‘action’ to do? Especially when the girl he fancies is in danger because of her knuckleheaded husband? Use his samurai driving skills to help the husband get out of trouble, of course. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks play the gangsters that The Driver has to ultimately deal with in his own harsh way.
Nicolas Winding Refn directed the film, and referred to it as ‘Fetish Filmmaking’ in an interview with Elvis Mitchell on a show called The Treatment. Seemed egotistical, but you can see he did some very personal storytelling to make DRIVE. The reason why I first referred to the movie as awkward is because of the odd mix of film elements. Lets talk about the music. The soundtrack sounded like it was, I donno, 80′s pop? The film had a 70-ish feel to it. The music didn’t quite fit the visual themes of the movie, because when you watched the introspective (but intense) Gosling on screen, you saw the ghosts of earlier icons James Dean or Steve McQueen. In fact, as a second point to question, Gosling’s performance would have been boring if not for the sense that he was holding an internal volcano back, which you knew would erupt later in the film.
Refn also kept things interesting with the love story between The Driver and Irene. But many may think he took too long weaving that love story together, also adding to the ‘boring’ stamp that DRIVE could have gotten. It was quaint though, like young romance from a 1960′s movie. I didn’t mind it taking it’s time to look genuine.
Quiet, quiet, quiet BAM, quiet, BAM, quiet, quiet BAM! That was how the film felt when it revealed that The Driver wasn’t just one to sit back and let bad things happen. During those scenes, the Driver reveals himself the be very capable of dishing out some bloody punishment. Unfortunately, there aren’t many times where that action manifests. And can I say one thing… STOP BITING OFF OF OLDBOY!!! Enough with the hammer stuff already! For those of you that haven’t seen OLDBOY, well look up that Korean gem and enjoy.
Anyway, DRIVE is a pretty good movie, but it has that artistic side that makes it boring if your not into that sort of thing. Truthfully, I have a feeling this film might garner a cult following, but it’s not the great car chase movie of the decade. You’re either gonna like it or hate it. Geek Soul Brother gives it 3 out of 5 Cosmic Afros.