Friday, September 16, 2011

Drive - Movie Review

This has been an interesting year for me at far as leading men in movies. A whole bunch of guys that I used to think couldn't carry a movie, I've now changed my opinion on. Guys like Bradley Cooper, and now Ryan Gosling, not so much for Drive (he kind of won me over in Crazy, Stupid, Love), but I no longer roll my eyes when I see there's another moving coming out with his name attached to it.

Drive is about Ryan Gosling's character, who I don't even think had a name in the movie. I think he was just known as the Driver. Anyway, he's a stunt driver in movies that also moonlights as a getaway driver for hire. He's partnered up with Bryan Cranston (who's always great, as he is here) and they work in an autoshop together. Cranston's character is trying to buy a NASCAR car that he wants the Driver to drive. He borrows money from the local loan shark, mob-types, played by Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks.

Driver strikes up a friendship with his neighbor, played by Carey Mulligan, and her son. They seem to have a little bit of a romance brewing, but then her husband is released from prison. He's in trouble with some mob-types after getting out of prison, and Driver attempts to help him out. I'll stop talking about the plot here.

I have a feeling a lot of people might walk out of this movie not knowing what to think. The trailer plays up the action, yet there are large stretches of time were nothing happens. I think this is one of those movies where the trailer might be a little misleading for some. The opening sequence is great and builds a lot of tension, but then it seems nothing happens for a good 30 minutes or so. I started to wonder when it was going to get on with it.

There's a lot of weird dialog, or lack of dialog. Gosling's character hardly says anything. There's a lot of moments were Gosling and Mulligan just stare at each other. She'll ask him a question and he'll just stare for a minute before giving like a one word answer. Sometimes it felt like he would say something that didn't have anything to do with the current conversation. That seemed to be how he interacted with almost everyone.

Drive had a weird 80's vibe to it, starting with the font the used for the opening credits and then the music used throughout the movie. I kind of dug that part of it though. Since Drive doesn't have a lot of dialog, you do focus on the music more than you normally might. It also gives the movie kind of a muted feel.

However, this muted tone makes the sudden moments of BRUTAL violence all that more jarring. Once the movie hits the halfway mark and starts to take off, there are some crazy scenes. These moments are shocking as they differ so much from the rest of the film.

I thought the cast was great. Gosling, Mulligan and Cranston were all fine, but I thought Albert Brooks really killed it in Drive. I don't think I've ever seen him in a role like this.

Drive does have more of an independent, artsy feel to it. You might get annoyed at the lack of dialog, but I think think this is a good example of a movie you can watch with the sound off and still know what's going on and get something out of it. It kind of reminded me of Hanna in the way the soundtrack was used.

This was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, who also directed Bronson, which I coincidentally just watched this week, and is another brutal, weird movie. He also directed Valhalla Rising, which attempted to be artsy, but needed to be more brutal. He might have finally found just the right combo with Drive.

Overall, I enjoyed Drive. This is something I'd like to watch again once it comes out on Blu-Ray. I don't think it's for everyone though and I can see a lot of people not being able to get into it. For those of you looking for something a little different, I think it's a good matinee.

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