Film review: “Drive” (9/2011)

The driver is a one trick pony. He drives for whatever the demand of the moment is. Racing stock cars, Hollywood stunts, getaway cars for robbery.  One gig to the next. His expertise and commitment to the task at hand is singular, and he’s a master of his trade. Otherwise, his life is empty.  Enter an accidental love interest, and a first time extension of his trade to help others with a predictable expansion of the complications thereof.

An interesting study.  Some criticisms:

The driver is just a little too laconic to justify his unpredicted foray into gratuitous violence. His inner disquiet comes off more like disinterest.  One would think that his quiet reservation would point toward commitment to either good or evil, not ambiguity. He doesn’t seem to know what his commitment is and searches for it throughout the film. But even in the climax, it’s unclear what it all meant.

Ryan Gosling does the laconic loner reasonably well but not as good as Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Westerns, George Clooney in “The American” or especially Steve McQueen, exponentially more convincing in “Bullitt”. Carey Mulligan’s role could have been played with equal facility by Paris Hilton. But wow….Albert Brooks is iso impeccably and convincingly evil he glows in the dark. The viewer truly fears this man and with good reason.  Director Nicolas Winding Refn has done a better job I think than his previous efforts but he has a lot to learn.

Best scene: The driver calmly finessing cops searching for his getaway car following an armed robbery.

Worst scene: Very graphically kicking a villain to death in an elevator.

The film has episodic extreme violence and bad vibes that don’t necessarily enhance the story. Not for any variety of children, even teens.

I stretch to give it three of five taciturn glares.

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