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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I recently saw Drive for a second time. I had seen it previously
opening day at a local multiplex and loved it. Though, I began to think
to myself "Maybe my hype got the better of me?" I was doubting myself.
Those doubts were cleared up as I watched Drive again. The Driver (Ryan
Gosling) is a cool, silent protagonist. He drives for movies by day and
performs getaways for heists by night. He's the best at what he does.
His skills behind the wheel are unparalleled. The Driver's stoic and
silent exterior may unsettle some viewers, and even get some laughs.
He's a badass driver but an awkward socialite. The contradictions
between Driver's work efficiency and lack of social skills make the
character all the more interesting. Though claims of the character
being empty are entirely unfounded.
When the Driver's neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio come into the Driver's life, we see a side of the Driver that we hadn't seen before. Sure he's still quiet but he smiles, he laughs. He is a human being. These moments of happiness displayed are what distinguishes the Driver from the soulless machine many have characterized him as.
One of my favorite things about the film is some great use of symbolism. Near the beginning of the film, we briefly see the Driver on the set of a film, working. I believe it was Shannon, (Bryan Cranston) the Driver's manager of sorts, who remarks something like "You ARE doubling for the star." The Driver dons a realistic-looking mask of the actor's face, gets in the car, crashes it, and that's a wrap. Later in the film, the Driver is well into the bloodbath. He's taking it to the top of foodchain, Nino (Ron Perlman). Before he goes to kill Nino, he dons the mask of the star once more. On the surface it can be seen as the Driver not wanting to be identified by Nino or his thugs before the kill. I saw it as the Driver becoming the star, the hero, in his own real story. His own real movie. He had transformed from a tough guy to a tough guy with a mission. Another use of symbolism. Throughout the film, the Driver and Benicio have these little staring contests. The Driver always wins, he doesn't blink. At the end of the film, when the camera focuses on the Driver's "corpse" for more than a minute, the Driver blinks. He blinks to show the audience he is alive. Truly alive. He's alive in the sense that he hasn't died from blood-loss, and he's alive in the sense that he is a human being.
Drive also has a stellar cast who all give some of their best performances. Gosling has broken out of his own stereotype. No longer will he be known as "the guy from The Notebook". Though he has had some great films and performances in the past, Drive is his masterpiece. He's Steve McQueen-cool, versatile in his action scenes and genuine in his softer, human scenes. Other standouts are Albert Brooks as a world-weary mobster. Bryan Cranston can do no wrong, and serves as a sort of comic relief. Ron Perlman is also fantastic, though he plays a more typical mobster character than Brooks. Carey Mulligan and Oscar Isaac do well as a couple strained by crime and violence.
Not only well-acted, Drive is a beautiful film to experience for its visuals. The streets and corners of Los Angeles haven't been so interesting since Michael Mann's "Heat". And when accompanied by Cliff Martinez's incredible synthesizer-driven score, the locale becomes downright mesmerizing. Director Nicolas Winding Refn has described his films as a sort of "heightened reality" and I would agree.
While we're talking about Refn, I think it's really interesting that he undertook this project. Based on a novella by James Sallis and adapted by Hossein Amini, the script was fairly standard stuff. The Driver had a lot more dialogue. You could see the studios turning it into more of a blockbuster kind of film. Yet Refn comes in and elevates a standard script to art. Similar to the Japanese director Seijun Suzuki, who adapted countless cookie-cutter yakuza scripts into bizarre visual dreams. Even though this is the first film of his Refn didn't also write, it's clear who's shaped the film we know as Drive. And I couldn't be any happier.
Drive has become a personal favorite of mine. It's sort of a modern "Bullitt", but with more violence, neon visuals, and longer silences; Ryan Gosling this era's King of Cool. Drive is a masterpiece, a meeting of mainstream action and art-house style. It is superb. I can only see this getting better as time passes.
The stereotypical "White Knight" appears in many films, but the role of
the Driver ranks as one of the most brutal and explosive, while
maintaining heroism to date.
Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and released on September 16, 2011 in the United States, is a beautiful art-house film reminiscent of the Tarantino's style in Pulp Fiction. Ryan Gosling gives an explosive performance in a movie that is surprisingly but tastefully minimalist.
The film stars Ryan Gosling as the Driver, an unnamed professional driver who holds jobs as mechanic and stunt driver during the day, and has a secret identity as a getaway driver. The Driver meets a girl, Irene (Carey Mulligan), in his apartment elevator and falls in love with her, even though she is married and her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is in jail. After the two have bonded and everything seems to be going well, Standard returns from jail with a debt to pay, which jeopardizes the safety of the girl and her son. The Driver decides to help Standard repay his debt and keep Irene and her son safe by driving for a heist being pulled by Standard as repayment.
The cinematography is one of the main factors why the film is so successful. Refn took great care to create an amazingly real experience. During the tensest parts of the film, where a Hollywood movie would have used music to create suspense, Refn relies on the uncomfortable silence (successfully) to create tension. The film is set in gritty Los Angeles and has intertextual references to Walter Hill's The Driver through similar plots, setting in downtown Los Angeles, and mainly silent protagonists.
Drive is a great thrill ride that is truly beautiful, and adds a real, believable atmosphere to the world in which it is set. This brutal but tasteful film will be enjoyably experienced by many.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Certainly, 'Drive' is a thriller. A different and unexpected type of
thriller. Whoever has seen this film will remember maybe the story
line, and a few action sequences, some of them extremely violent. They
will remember first of all the two principal characters and their
almost unreal lover story, they will remember the calm and focused look
of Ryan Gosling (we never get to know the name of his character, he is
just the Driver) which blurs into tenderness when he crosses the
restraint smile of Irene (Carey Mulligan). One kiss followed by a
violent kill, this is the only physical contact the two will ever make
It may take a good 30 minutes for the viewer to decide what this film is about, but then things become clear. It is the most impossible and most beautiful love story we have seen in a while, disguised in a violent action movie. He is a stuntman, and a potential race driver who does not get to the race tracks, but races for burglars, helping them escape the location of their crimes. She is her floor neighbor, she has a kid and a husband in jail. When things seem to converge to some domestic low class drama located in the non-privileged area of Los Angeles, the husband returns from jail, gets soon into trouble, and the Driver is the only one who can potentially help him. Or drive him to his destiny. From here the second half of the film becomes one of the most violent I have seen recently on mainstream cinema, all packaged by director Nicolas Winding Refn in 70s style cinematography mixed with classic cars races.
The sincere and straightforward acting and the day to day appearance of the main characters make the violence (and there is violence!) even more striking. And yet, the overall impression 'Drive' left to me was of one of the most sensible films I have seen recently, with emotion surging up from a very unexpected place. My only problem is that I am not sure to whom this film would be recommended. Action films fans may find a little bit too sentimentality here, romantic movies fans may be shocked by the violence. To all, give this film a try!
From the credit font to the sound editing, this film was a creative
mash-up of everything I love about a good suspense/action film. Its
minimalistic approach was beautiful. The use of dead silence in this
film is simply deafening at times, such a great inverse way to build
suspense. I am extremely impressed with Ryan Gosling's method acting
ability. Sociopathic, heroic violence at its most primal level.
Totally agree with you blackmambamark, I thought of "Taxi Driver" too. Stanley Kubrick used silence in The Shining the same way, not many can pull it off with such a seamless cadence. And screw the Oscars, this film deserves at least three nods.
This high-acclaimed black noir of our era has accumulated
"best-of-the-year" momentum ever since it garnered a Best Director
honor for the Denmark prodigy Nicolas Winding Refn (from PUSH trilogy
and DRIVE is his Hollywood premier) in Cannes last year.
The film exudes a drastically visual flare almost in every scene, from its one-of-a-kind camera angle, an utterly mind-blowing hue (a mesmerizing contrast between warm orange and ruthless shadow dark). The whole script is as corny as any hacks could write with eyes shut, a point-of- no-return road for a lone hero to save his beloved woman from danger. So plot wise, the film could be a thorough disaster, and here comes our virtuoso director to rescue the film and without embellishing the content, fully showcasing his theatrical aesthetics to fend off the fatigue of the tedious characterization (a taciturn Ryan Gosling can only be beneficial to his staunchest followers, while a dainty Carey Mulligan has too little to display her faculty), among the cast, if one doesn't harbor a over-hyped expectation, Albert Brooks will be a fierily menacing discovery particularly it is creepily against his usual comedic strain.
Subtlety rules, several remarkable shots and tableaux (to wit: the hammer menace in the strip- club's dressing room, the man with a creepy musk in front of the pizzeria before the slaughter with its consequent beach hunt at night and so on) are jaw-droppingly staggering and the violence showcase is harrowingly stylistic, the elevator scene could be on a par with the Gaspar Noé's groundbreakingly grisly IRREVERSIBLE (2002). The film is going to be a classic cult not the least because of all the Oscar snubs it receives, which is confoundingly a congenial sign of its bright future both for the film itself and Mr. Refn's professional career (the latter is even more uncanny regarding the recent vicious curse upon non-American new directors' debut in Hollywood, Refn and Cary Fukunaga from JANE EYRE 2011 are the only jinx-breakers so far).
Ps. the hypnotic soundtrack is the ace, the ending-song COLLEGE'S A REAL HERO is the killing for me.
They were my exact words after getting a feel for this film.
I'll be honest; when I first read, "A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbour." I had no interest in viewing this title. I just though it would be too much like Transporter (Jason Statham)and that film bored me to tears; but, boy, was I wrong! Drive is not a movie, it's a piece of art.
My friend convinced me to watch it and I've been thanking him ever since. The film is so stylish and has such a 'noir' feel to it. Definitely the coolest film of 2011.
One thing I can guarantee is you'll be after the soundtrack once you see this film. Absolutely perfect. It is so strange, yet it works for the movie so well. Nicolas Winding Refn ceases to hypnotise me with his fantastic direction and dedication to detail. Ryan Gosling truly shows his stuff in this movie. I was so shocked by some of his actions and equally shocked by his mental threshold. His character is stone face and so mysterious, it's great; and he is, of course, supported by some fantastic actors, one definitely being Bryan Cranston... that man is a God! This is a very unique film and it can't be missed, I'm glad I changed my mind about watching it. After so many tacky flicks, this has restored my faith in cinema.
It's hard to describe this film with any other word than classic. It
doesn't have a retro look, but it does have a bit of a retro feel.
It also has a brilliant build up of suspense, facilitated with poignant music, insanely smooth camera work, and a perfectly subtle script. Winding Refn is becoming one of my all time favorites quickly - as is Gosling, who stuns here, speaking more words with his eyes than his mouth ever comes close to. The soundtrack, as has been said, is brilliant, although it may take some people repeat viewings to catch why.
All in all, probably the best movie going experience I had this year/
EDIT: I am upset, but not surprised that the Oscars chose to nominate emotional flubber (e.g., Incredibly Loud) over a real film, like Drive.
"Drive" is one of the years best.
Nicolas Winding Refn has taken a basic story, and injected a huge does of style and realism.
The films first 15 minutes reek of films like "To Live and Die in L.A." and "Heat". The music takes the audience on a ride from the opening credits, to the lighter moments of the film, and eventually into the meat of this violent, isolated tale.
The script is purposefully stripped to the bone to give the up-and-coming director full-artistic freedom in his biggest film to date.
The result is a smashing success; thanks in part to Ryan Gosling, who gives us a restrained, "What is he thinking", great performance as a stunt driver who isn't scared to take risks.
Gosling's character doesn't ask for a place in these people's lives, and he's anything but the a-typical Hollywood hero. The film doesn't stop for one moment of brevity.
The violence of the film balances out the slow-pacing and the lack of dialog. "Drive" moves at a realistic pace. Interaction between characters is slow, and the violence throughout the movie is fast. Gosling and Mulligan's interaction is sweet, under-stated, and brimming with hope and lust. They both have something to offer each other, but they're held back; it's just another way that Refn injects integrity into these characters without dialog or backstory. After the film, you know nearly as little about the lead characters as you did going in.
It's one of the most straight forward movies I've seen in years. The film relies on no gimmicks, and while it has all this rich style, it doesn't seem pretentious. It's gritty, but beautiful. It's heart-breaking, but uplifting at the same time.
It has other influences from all sorts of directions. I've read many Michael Mann comparisons and mentioned one above, but the film reminds me of other films like Boyz in the Hood, and the first 20 minutes of Tron Legacy. BUT, more than any other film this reminds me of Mann's "Thief" starring James Caan. I love both films.
Refn is on a short list of directors whose film's I won't miss any time soon.
You'll like this if you liked: Heat, Manhunter, To Live and Die in L.A., Blue Thunder, and A Better Tomorrow.
'Drive' is a triumph of style over substance. However, in this case
style is the substance. The unexpected pop music, garishly pink credits
and mood-filled lighting, all conspire to create a truly distinctive
flavour. Without the flourishes 'Drive' would merely be another languid
crime drama. It pays homage to the 80s, and if this was made then, we'd
be looking back at it as a classic of its kind. It's made to stand out.
And it does.
Ryan Gosling is the kid with no name. By day a stuntman, by night a getaway driver. Five minutes: that's all he gives his clients. A minute longer and he's gone. He can afford to be so direct because he's the best at what he does. He uses his cunning to elude the cops. When they're metres away he phlegmatically parks the car and turns off the lights, or drives behind them and waits in areas where helicopters can't track him.
The Kid has a past. We don't know that, we assume it. How else could he kill so mercilessly? Maybe that's why he's laconic: it's another way to be invisible. There's an economy of acting on display here, which I enjoyed because Gosling is an actor you can quite easily watch doing 'nothing' and still be entertained.
Serving this film is a nostalgic bubble-gum pop soundtrack. I never knew this genre could be made to seem so sophisticated. It's not an obvious score but it works beautifully. It brings out the story's pathos. The slo-mos with 'A real human being' playing (now on my iPod) are cathartic.
As Irene, Carey Mulligan is perfect as the love interest. She's The Kid's neighbour. While her partner, Standard (Oscar Isaac) is in prison, she and The Kid are free to flirt. Their chemistry is lovely to behold. It's subtle. They interact mostly through smiles, which reinforces the point that communication is done mostly through body language.
Standard's release from prison provides the thrust of the story. Some heavies he owes money to coerce him to rob a pawn shop. He resists and they beat him into submission. The Kid intervenes when Standard's son is handed a symbolic bullet by one of the thugs. But it all goes wrong. Horribly wrong. He intuits it's a set-up, and in the final third, the story becomes one of mutual retribution. I want to tell you more, but doing that will spoil it for you.
This is a violent film. Scratch that. This is an exceptionally violent film. But I have no qualms because none of it glorified. It repels you and makes you wince, as real violence should. The few violent scenes are accentuated because they are dispersed throughout a deliberately slow-burning film.
The whole cast forms a wonderful ensemble. The principal players are cast against type and are convincing, particularly Ron Perlman's Jewish pizzeria owner, who longs to be Italian, and his partner, Albert Brooks, who is more reasonable but no less minatory. And of course the brilliant Ryan Gosling, as a lugubrious loner.
So much thought has gone into every sequence, like in the lift when The Kid kisses Irene to relax her before literally bashing in a man's skull, or the close-up of the scorpion on his jacket when we see his dark side emerge, or the shot of Albert Brooks looking as if he regrets a murder, suggesting that the mobster adage 'It's not personal, it's business' is nonsense.
I just don't see Gosling's appeal. Looks aside he's played every role I've seen him in the same. Where is the range? He mumbles through this movie lifelessly and this pretty much sets the tone and tempo for the whole movie. None of the actors and actresses shine, much less bring any much needed life to this film. Story is predictable and uninspired. The whole thing is disconnected and unengaging. I love violent movies but some of the violence here is nonsensical. . . . . look I wasted enough time watching this film - I'm not going to waste more reviewing it in minute detail - this is just a warning, one very very miss-able movie.
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