Drive (2011)

Less Fast, More Furious

A hollywood stunt performer (Ryan Gosling) moonlights as a getaway driver. As a getaway driver, he works anonymously, never uses the same clients more than once and only allows his clients five minutes to do their business, otherwise they're on their own. When Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son, Benicio, move in next door, the Driver strikes a relationship with the two. After Irene's husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison, he is confronted by a gangster who he owes "protection money" to. The Driver then offers his services to work with Standard, in order for the gang to leave Irene and her son alone.

The first thing you're bound to notice upon viewing Drive is how wonderfully styled the film. The backgrounds are brilliantly eye-catching, the sets are greatly styled, all thanks to director Nicolas Winding Refn. This isn't the only thing Refn manages to get right, but he builds up tension very well in many different scenes, and plays a electro-pop score which manages to fit in perfectly well.

Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed lead, who we shall refer to as Driver, and he gives an amazing performance . Gosling doesn't give off much dialogue throughout, but what does leave his mouth is brilliant, with not a single word ever wasted on talking about pointless filler. Gosling manages to perfectly get across how the anger is building up inside his character with only his facial expression and body language, which as a result manages to successfully let the audience feel the building anger that lies dormant within the Driver. The Driver is quiet on the dialogue, but is quite the smart guy, knowing that it's better to escape from the police by driving carefully in a normal looking vehicle than to speed off in a sports car with a souped up engine.

Carey Mulligan plays Irene, the Driver's next door neighbour, and she and Gosling manage to have incredible chemistry despite them not sharing much dialogue. You can really feel the Driver bonding with Irene and her son as it is pulled off in such a believable and realistic manner, with each awkward smile and look at one another saying more than the dialogue could reciprocate. In fact, at times the silence between characters manages to say more than an exchange of dialogue ever could try. Albert Brooks manages to be surprisingly great as the intimidating villain, while Ron Perlman is obviously great as the jewish gangster and Bryan Cranston tremendously adds heart as the Driver's friend, Shannon.


With a name like Drive, you do expect quite a number of car chases to go through the film's running time. Instead, director Nicolas Winding Refn wisely chooses not to cram the film with useless car chase sequences but rather saves them up, giving us chases which are as realistic as you can get from a car chase and a thousand times more exciting than the car porn any Fast and Furious film can load up their screentime on.

Another thing you must know about Drive is that, while rarely showing off violence, it can get really violent, as well as really bloody and quite gory. This is perfectly exemplified when Driver finally reaches his breaking point and unleashes his anger in a brutal scene which takes place within an elevator. While the actual act is not witnessed but for one short moment in the scene, the sounds which you hear during the entire scene are just as horrific as actually viewing what the unleashment of the Driver's anger. The smart thing Refn does is he restrains from piling on the violence and gore at every turn, which makes it all the more shocking when such violent moments happen.

Ultimately, Drive feels like a film by Quentin Tarantino, apart from it being told in a non-linear manner and the notable absence of quotable dialogue. With that being said, Drive manages to be a brilliant addition to cinema, with it's wonderfully artistic direction, tremendous acting and shocking moments of ultra-violence, making it my favorite film of the year. With that said, this film may not be for everyone, but it's definitely worth a try.


Aditya Gokhale said…
I am waiting to get a decent copy of this to see..missed it in the theaters.
Great review!
Matt Stewart said…
Great review! I doubt it could top my favorite of the year, but this does look pretty awesome.
James Rodrigues said…
@Aditya Gokhale I missed this in cinemas also, I watched a DVD rip of it on, give it a shot

@Matt Stewart Before viewing this, my favorite was Tintin, I was surprised by how much I loved this film. You never know, it could surprise you also. And it is VERY awesome
Myerla said…
I thought it was quite good but I did feel that Gosling's limited dialogue pushed him away from the audience. Also I felt it odd that Irene never asked The Driver's name. Nice reivew.
Anonymous said…
Great review! Makes me want to see it. I passed it up in the theaters because of the name...Drive. Geeze I hate driving, I thought, why in the world would I want to see a movie about it? Guess I should check it out...I love movies with juicy characters...can't wait to see a character that doesn't talk much. Cheers!!
James Rodrigues said…
@Myerla that is odd, but i'm just going with the idea that she asked it off screen

@yaykissparr actually, there' isn't as much driving as you'd expect there to be by the name.
I agree with most of your points. But I do disagree about the chemistry between Driver and Irene. It was intentionally fake because Driver was socially awkward. Regardless, nice to know you loved it so much.
HarleyQuinn said…
This sounds epic. I should definitely see this soon. great review!