Drive (2011)

Drive (2011)
  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama
  • Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston


A mysterious Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver seems to be trying to escape his shady past as he falls for his neighbor – whose husband is in prison and who’s looking after her child alone. Meanwhile, his garage mechanic boss is trying to set up a race team using gangland money, which implicates our driver as he is to be used as the race team’s main driver. Our hero gets more than he bargained for when he meets the man who is married to the woman he loves.


  • Drive is interesting. Drive is beautiful. Drive is intense. Drive is wonderful. These are the simple words I use to describe Drive. The story of ‘Guy’, an unnamed stunt driver by day and getaway driver by night, as he gets caught in a web of blood and money all surrounded by his love for a married women whose husband is in jail.

    ‘Guy’ is the character for which we spend most of our time with, he’s not very interesting at first, he has only one expression, he shows no emotion and he’s pretty much mute the entire film. But this is what makes him interesting, his lack basic human expression leaves him a canvas for which we can paint ourselves on, allowing ourselves to be fully immersed in the film… that is until ‘Guy’ gets a little bitter and by bitter I mean down right psychotic. He’s stabbing, shooting, slapping his way around and still with that expressionless look on his face.

    The film does catch you off guard with how violent it is, one minute ‘Guy’ is interrogating a woman and the next her brains are scattered across the floor from a shotgun blast to the side of the head. This isn’t your average, over the top action movie either. In an elevator, after having shared a very strong, loving kiss with his love interest, ‘Guy’ proceeds to stomp a hit-mans face into the ground, I swear you can actually see his foot go through the guys face, its that disgusting.

    The use of the song ‘A Real Hero’ as a recurring motif throughout the film is a great cherry on the cake. We question is ‘Guy’ a real human being by the end of the film, with tears in his eyes, as the song may suggest?, is he a real hero as the song says?. Was ‘Guy’ the hero of the story?, was he just insane?, was he a man so used to a strict life of being told what to do that he snapped when the foundations of structure came down around him?. Who knows? what I do know is that Drive is a fantastic piece of cinema.

  • Driver: I’ll see you in five minutes.
    Standard: I’ll see you in four.

    This one was standing in line already for a long time to be watched. Looking at the number of responses on IMDB, my expectations about it went sky high. Here and there I’ve read it would be a unique masterpiece, quite arty and directed in a Tarantino kind of way. Those forecasts were also met.

    I thought Ryan Gosling would be kind of a modern version of James Dean who would make female movie-fans swoon with his blue puppy eyes. But what an excellent anti-chick flick interpretation he puts into this movie. With the leather gloves, the emotionless facial expression and the high value on the coolness thermometer he surely reminded me of James Dean. At other times, he seemed to be a fear toothpick chewing loner from a spaghetti western made by Morricone.

    And “Drive” really is a brilliant movie in retrospect. Indeed, it is an arty dark movie, without a lot of complicated plots and twists, yet straight-to-the-point. Aggressive and poetic, interwoven with a slow-building romance, horrifying at times with explicit violent images. The composition and progress in this movie is sometimes enervating slow in the beginning with lot of silenced pauses that really started to work on my nerves a bit. “Rehearsing this script was a piece of cake for him” I thought after about 15 minutes. Eventually, the silence and the expressions say more than a magnificent elaborate dialogue.

    The storyline itself I find masterly. A timid stunt driver/mechanic overloaded with Antarctic coolness, offering his services in the late hours as a getaway driver, eventually emerging as valiant knight for the neighbor in trouble whose wife was a cool aloof who sneaks into his emotional world of feelings in an extremely slow manner, and ends up in a complicated rip off plan of some local thugs. Beautiful atmospheric images of LA with “Grand Theft Auto”-like situations.
    And yet sometimes I felt that the meaningless pauses could be safely left out, without prejudice to the overall atmosphere of the film. The soundtrack was also a positive contribution. Usually the music passes by without attracting my attention. In “Drive” it was appropriate and relevant.

    I found this review at IMDB. I don’t agree with it completely, but some points were right on target. I liked this because of its use of super humorous terms,writing style and content.

    Plot synopsis
    1) Driver is driver. He’s like the Transporter from the movie, except 1/14th as interesting.
    2) He goes home after job ,finds girl,girl has boy, girl has husband in prison.
    3) Driver wants to be a mechanic, or a Nascar Driver, or a criminal, or a Movie Stunt Driver…or maybe a space shuttle pilot? or President of Uganda, who knows.
    4) Husband of girl gets out of jail, and he owes money to mafia guys. Drivers likes girl, so he helps husband.
    5) Husband robs pawn shop and dies. Seems that he’s been set up by mafia guys as a frame job and Husband gets dead’ed.
    6) Driver gets even. Kills everyone. For a while, dressed in a stunt driver mask.
    7) Driver gets killed, but lives, or something, driver drives off.

  • Ryan Gosling is the main character in this strange, dreamlike, and relentlessly violent film that seems to have come out in theaters 25-30 years after it was filmed. I say that because it screams early 80’s in the worst way. Now come on everybody it wasn’t made in the 80’s (Gosling would’ve have been in his toddler years), but everything from the soundtrack to the opening credits suggests that director Nicolas Winding Refn wanted that type of feel.

    Drive tells the story of a Hollywood stuntman (played by Gosling) named “Driver” (his name is never mentioned in the film) who’s a stunt driver by day and a getaway driver by night. His third job is working in a auto chop shop for Shannon (played by Bryan Cranston). Shannon is connected to a mobster named Bernie Rose (played by Albert Brooks). Bernie sees potential in “Driver” and has his people build a stock car for him to race (Gosling’s character might also have a fourth career in the works). “Driver” also connects with a young woman named Irene (Carey Mulligan) who’s husband just out of prison, gets called back to the criminal life to do a heist. Things get complicated when the heist goes wrong. Without giving too much away, all the characters above mentioned are all involved/connected and that’s when the film gets darker. It basically becomes a completely different yarn that you thought it would be.

    But lets get back to the star, Ryan Gosling. As I said earlier, his character has no name. Throughout the film, his screen presence suggest that he was born to play this role. He holds a toothpick in his mouth, doesn’t say much, and acts with his eyes and facial ticks. It’s an underplayed performance but it’s darn good. He owns the screen so much that when he’s not on camera, you’d think the movie committed a felony. However, when the camera is not on him, it’s on Albert Brooks. I’d have to say his performance shocked me. I’m used to seeing him in a comedic role but after seeing Drive, you’d think he would do the bad guy thing more often. He plays an absolutely horrific, nasty, despicable human being so brilliantly, it’s ridiculous that he didn’t get nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor.

    To be honest, I would have given Drive a better rating had it sustained it’s brilliance for its full running time of 100 minutes. But after one of the most exhilarating opening scenes in movie history, the film peaked too early. It wasn’t what I expected. Granted, it is a slick and entertaining vehicle for the director and the stars involved, but the concept of a car chase here and there followed by scenes of brutal killings and uncomfortable silences between the actors is in my mind what kept Drive from greatness. The violence in this film is more of a form of art than your typical movie violence. It’s more gratuitous than any of the key scenes call for. The director obviously didn’t care what anybody thought. It’s was his vision and he ran with it. Take Drive for what it’s worth. If you got out a blender, turned it on, and threw in Repo Man (1984), Taxi Driver (1976), and the recent Tom Cruise flick Jack Reacher (2012), this is the concoction you would come up with. As a movie It’s retro, it’s disturbing, it’s mysterious. Ultimately, it’s the movie equivalent of a car accident that you can’t look away from. I recommend it, just not for every movie going demographic. Lets just say Drive is your ticket, if you can handle the wheel.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog:

  • Drive won Best Director at Cannes for a reason. And it is not the reason that would send legions of fans of car action to the theaters. Wrongly marketed as a Fast and Furious type movie, Drive is more than just an action spectacle. In fact, it would be inaccurate to label it as such because the film focuses on action not as spectacle but as human reaction to circumstance.

    Directed by Danish filmmaker Nicholas Winding Refn, who made Bronson (2008), a flawed but fascinating film starring Tom Hardy in a tour de force performance, Drive sees Ryan Gosling in a similarly anchoring lead performance.

    Gosling plays the man with no name. He is simply known as Driver in the film. He is a mechanic but he drives – as a stunt performer, as a race car driver, and occasionally drives the getaway car in heists. In short, he is a brilliant driver.

    Driver meets Irene (Carey Mulligan), the beautiful girl-next-door neighbor who takes care of her small child. One day, Irene’s husband comes back from prison, but is forced to take part in a heist to clear his mounting debts. The situation escalates into something deadly when the heist goes wrong, which sees Driver taking matters into his own hands.

    Drive is a homage to numerous films, including car action classics like Bullitt (1968) and dark character studies such as Taxi Driver (1976). In fact, I see Refn’s film as a contemporary update on Scorsese’s masterpiece. Both films involve a reticent hero trying to see meaning in his existence, and acts violently to protect the vulnerable women who come into his life.

    While Taxi Driver adopts a moody but gritty style, Drive is more stylish and features a pulsating soundtrack that works wonders on the film’s stunningly-lit, and composed visuals. Refn’s film is also as much a brilliant exercise on camera and lighting as it is on suspenseful direction.

    At any one time, we never know what is going to happen to anyone in the film, including Gosling’s character. Such unpredictability is rare in filmmaking and is certainly what drives the film when the pacing becomes deliberately slow at some moments.

    The violence in Drive is explicit and gory, but Refn cuts the scene at the right time for maximum impact. He knows violence is more painful to watch when it lingers in the mind than it being shown outright. In one brutal scene, a man is kicked and has his face and jaw crushed by someone’s boot. We don’t see the violence, but we clearly hear its impact, and that is enough to make us cringe uncontrollably.

    Drive will greatly disappoint fans looking for an entertaining ride. The trailer is misleading, but this is a picture that had officially competed at Cannes, so it is no surprise to me that it turns out in an unexpectedly satisfying way.

    While the entire film is solid, the best part of Drive is its 10-min prologue sequence, which if isolated from its main body, could have been one of the most incredible shorts of all time. Clearly not for the faint-hearted, Drive is an excellent and unconventional arthouse action film that is both uniquely presented by Refn and intensely acted by Gosling.

    GRADE: A-

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