Drive (2011)

Crime, Drama
Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.
With its hyper-stylized blend of violence, music, and striking imagery, Drive represents a fully realized vision of arthouse action.
  • FilmDistrict Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 16 Sep 2011 Released:
  • 31 Jan 2012 DVD Release:
  • $35.1M Box office:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

Intelligent Adrenaline5/10
After a summer of cheap thrills, Drive delivers thrills on the cheap. With a budget Michael Bay might have allocated for a single effects sequence in Transformers 3, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn made one of the best movies of the year. Following Bronson and Valhalla Rising, Refn crafts his most polished, commercial work yet, while retaining all the ambiguity and unbridled aggression of his tough-as-nails art house pictures.

Bearing thematic resemblance to Darren Aronofsky's recent output, Drive is like Black Swan in overdrive. The film pins its headlights on the dark implications of unchecked obsession and good intentions gone haywire. That dangerous duality – humanity on the razor's edge of animal brutality – is played to unnerving perfection by Ryan Gosling.

Rightly among the most reliable names on the Hollywood marquee, the star of Drive plays a crucible of a character. A friendly, fatherly figure to his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, he's decidedly less so when the two are threatened. A sort of oblique, ultraviolent superhero, the driver leaps to defend the innocent with bloody determination. If the first half of Drive plays as drama, the second is straight up revenge fare.

Playing on the juxtaposition of calm and calamity, Refn keeps us on our toes throughout. Quiet moments stretch into suffocating silence, and the explosive violence that inevitably shatters it practically tears the frame in half. The audio is expertly mixed; you'll want to see Drive loud. From its roaring engines and visceral blows to its curt dialogue, the film is an altar to the power of great sound design.

In truth, Drive isn't pervasively violent, though its most excruciatingly effective moments leave a memory trail like tire streaks on a sunbaked highway. At the heart of the story is a compelling, surprisingly tender romance. Carey Mulligan has proved herself a similarly reliable talent to Gosling, and has worked in recent years with the likes of Michael Mann, Oliver Stone, and Mark Romanek.

Her fragile character's relationship with the driver is subtle and nuanced in a manner atypical of thriller convention. They're not family, they're not even sleeping together. Drive is not a sexy film. Refn fetishizes neither cars nor women; if The Fast and the Furious is the sleek exterior curves of an automobile, Drive is the greasy, undulating pistons. And it's utilitarian at a lean 100 minutes.

The rest of the small cast also impresses. Albert Brooks plays against type as a cutthroat crime lord, and a note-perfect Ron Perlman plays his meathead partner. Bryan Cranston of TV's Breaking Bad has a small role too, as employer and confidant to Gosling's character. Their relationships shuffle as lines are drawn and redrawn, but none of them comes away unscathed by the film's end.

Drive is either the explosive end to a lukewarm summer movie season or an early autumn adrenaline rush. In machismo, it far outpaces its hundred million dollar competition, leaving overwrought tales of lesser heroes like Thor and Green Lantern in the dust. Its troubled characters, and the bonds of desperation that link them, elevate the film above its genre trappings and shield it from disposable entertainment status.

Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive is an anomaly. It's like a 1200 horsepower hybrid. And it's one of the best movies of 2011.
-Cinema fantastic-10/10
A truly beautiful and hypnotic film.

I've seen the last few Nicholas Winding Refn films, and while I liked both Bronson and Valhalla Rising a lot, they were both "difficult" films, in that both structure, pacing and tone were bound to alienate some people, and of course they were both marketed as somewhat mainstream films while being anything but.

Part of the irony of Refn's situation is that he makes films about "Primal" man- and these protagonists invariably commit acts of great violence on those around them. This violence puts his films into the genre categories that Hollywood recognises and promotes to the public, resulting in trailers for Refn movies that grossly misrepresent the sophistication of the actual film. In that way, Valhalla's intense, slow-burning and almost dialogue-free mythic exploration of our savage past can be repackaged as a "Vlad the Viking goes to the New World" action movie.

Yet both Valhalla and Bronson were highly "directed" films, revealing a very strong hand in control of the material. And so, I was extremely curious to see what Refn would do with the material, and whether he would be able to rein in his sometimes obtrusive style in order to allow the story more room to breathe... I shouldn't have worried. I think the director has managed to balance a genuine artistry with the demands of the genre in a way that is rarely, if ever, achieved. I absolutely loved it. Just stay the hell away from the trailer, as it reveals far too much, and again, misrepresents the film's true "feel".

Driver has a tone of wry amusement at everything around it, much like Gosling's half-smirk, pivoted on the toothpick perpetually in the corner of his mouth. Schmucky gangsters and mob cliches provide some laughs, but the heart of the film is Gosling's portrayal of the unnamed? main character and his sweet, underplayed romance with Mulligan and her young son.

While an ethereal synthesizer-pop soundtrack provides an at-times tender,at-times mythic undercurrent, the car chases and action scenes, when they come, are tense, brutal and brief- far more Eastern Promises than The Transporter. Mulligan plays her character all trembly, wet-eyed, sweet and innocent and is swept away by Gosling's quiet strength and self-assured charm, while Gosling speaks little and remains a mystery to the end, though we never doubt his fundamentally good nature.

The seasoned supporting cast are all very fun, except maybe for Kendricks who is relegated to a fairly irrelevant part. Of course, this is really Gosling's film, and he inhabits the character completely, turning what could be a straightforward Hollyood tough-guy role into a complex and contradictory character, self-confident and physical, yet clearly lonely and possessed with a certain peculiarity and stillness, almost reminiscent of De Niro's Travis Bickle.

Visually the film is lush and gorgeous. Like Michael Mann, Refn and his cinematographer are able to instill LA with a sense of life and character that most directors just fail to do. Unlike Mann however, Refn opts for warm orange tones over Mann's hard blues, and in one particularly beautiful sequence the familiar LA cliche of driving down the dry LA river is taken to an unexpectedly joyful conclusion.

Despite its absolute craftsmanship, Driver is probably not for everybody, which makes me sad. People who prefer bald-headed muscle men slugging and wise-cracking their way into their wallets should of course stay away, as this bears very little resemblance to the standard Hollywood fare associated with the genre, and they might well be disappointed.

But for me, Driver was sweet, surreal, mythic, tense, fun, hilarious, revolting, and surprising. See it because it will make you a better person.

And so, 10 out of 10, because it deserves it.
A Tense and Often Beautiful Masterpiece.10/10
You might hear one comparing this to a Tarantino film, but leave all worries at the door, this is an absorbing and tremendously unique piece of cinema from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. The reason it works so exquisitely well is because the film grabs hold of you and takes you inside this often dark and dream-like LA setting. So, when the end of the film hits, you feel apart of this film, and it's there to stay.

This film also offers a Ryan Gosling like you've never seen him, speaking only when necessary, with tension and fury in his eyes. He's silent, caring, and ridiculously tough. Every line is delivered perfectly and every gesture is natural.

I saw this at the LA Film Festival on a mammoth screen with booming speakers. The music only makes this film more unique. It is catchy and synchronized perfectly with the TRULY beautiful cinematography.

This film is the BEST of its genre. I honestly cannot compare it to any other film, for it is truly that different. "Drive" is already the best of the year, because I'm POSITIVE no other film will haunt and invade me quite like this film has. This is not just a classic for its genre, but a beautiful and bold classic in general.
The scam of the century6/10
I've been an IMDb member for about 5 years or so and I've rated over 650 titles. I never wrote a review before though...

"Drive" is the most overrated movie I have ever seen. When I got out of the cinema the other night I was outraged. But not in the "I want my money back!" or "I want my two hours back!" way. I was outraged because this movie is rated higher than "Leon", for example. I can name a hundred movies that are better than "Drive" but have lower ratings.

In my opinion it's a 6/10 movie. Full of cliches, weak plot, no dialogue and uncalled for explicit violence scenes. The cinematic was good and the soundtrack was OK, but that doesn't add up. Everybody is talking about the acting. Well, what acting? There are no characters, not even one line of dialogue to be remembered. Ryan Gosling acts like he is the most awesome person in the universe. Moving around with his hands in his pockets or with his arms crossed on his chest, with a toothpick in his mouth like he's Stallone in "Cobra". A man of few words but who looks smarter than anybody else. He is ridiculous taking himself so seriously. But hey, he is a mechanic, part time stunt driver, part time get-away driver. How cool is that? Maybe he should have also applied for a school bus driver position so his sensitive side appear more clear to us and soften our dull old hearts.

And what's with all that violence? Broken skulls, throats cut, blood everywhere all of a sudden. These scenes just don't fit in the movie. It seems that they were added just to shock the audience and to impress the 12 year-old who managed to get tickets. And don't get me started on the screenplay flaws...

Anyway, there are so many things that I didn't like in this movie that they wouldn't fit in 10 reviews. I believe though that his rating will eventually go down. I mean, 8.7? Lets have some sense. That's how "Matrix", "The usual suspects" or "Forrest Gump" are rated... "Drive" is just a "B" movie and doesn't deserve to share the spot with any other film above.

Unless, the world turns upside down.

EDIT: OK, I was a bit out of line regarding the title of my review. It's just a highly overrated movie.
Why Are Some People So Dumb?5/10
One reviewer here suggested that instead of seeing Drive you should see what Drive was aspiring to be Layer Cake. Drive is nothing like Layer Cake nor even tries to be. They have nothing in common, and the comment is just absurd. It is a far far better film though. From it's title sequence written in cursive pink (which a ton of idiots just did not get for some reason) to it's retro soundtrack. It is a picture perfect reflection of the films from the late 60's, 70's and 80's. If you have not seen films from this era (i do believe so many reviewers here have not) you will not entirely get this film.

This is a man with no name film. Instead of horses and cowboys we get fast muscle cars and ruthless gangsters. Our hero is a man with no name. He is also a man of very few words that can break out into fits of extreme violence at any moment to protect those he cares about. We get no back story to our hero just like the Eastwood pictures, which makes the film even more effective. He is not your typical Vin Diesel blabbering idiot action hero. He is an old fashioned action hero. Too many here did not understand this, and decided this was bad acting/directing. It is far better to imagine what Gosslings character has done to arrive at this point, than to be shown in some cheesy flash back sequence. Albert Brooks (who is just fantastic as usual), Ron Pearlman, and Bryan Cranston all provide nice contrast to our quiet hero.

Another reviewer here stated there was no explanation for the second car at the pawn shop. Well there was. I will not give it away here, but you will find the answer in the motel sequence. The violence has also been hated on here, but it is just part of the world he lives in. The fact that he can be just as cruel as the gangsters adds to the mystery of his character.

Not one negative review is credible. Unless you were raised on Transformer and Fast and Furious pictures. Then I guess you would need more CG, louder music, and bad duologue so you could understand the film easier. Or maybe you just need more imaginary computerized cars doing spectacular things on screen to hold your attention. The fact is this is a fantastic film, filled with great performances, and some of the best chase sequences since bullet. Be smart see films that matter.