Review: Drive (2011)

“If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours no matter what. I don’t sit in while you’re running it down; I don’t carry a gun… I drive.”

Drive is an drama that stars Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch). The film is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson)

Ryan Gosling stars as a Los Angeles wheelman for hire, stunt driving for movie productions by day and steering getaway vehicles for armed heists by night. Though a loner by nature, Driver can’t help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a vulnerable young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband Standard (Oscar Isaac). After a heist intended to pay off Standard’s protection money spins unpredictably out of control, Driver finds himself driving defense for the girl he loves, tailgated by a syndicate of deadly serious criminals. But when he realizes that the gangsters are after more than the bag of cash in his trunk-that they’re coming straight for Irene and her son-Driver is forced to shift gears and go on offense.

Ryan Gosling seems to be THE hottest ticket at the moment. A man everyone is talking about from critics to fans. And nothing but praise for the man. I’m still in the early stages of watching his films and Drive, the first I’ve seen on the big screen. Gosling’s character, simply known as ‘Driver’ is a man with very few words yet says a lot in terms of his presence. The last film I saw that had a captivating performance from a lead man was ‘127 Hours’. Driver is just busting with coolness, everything about him from the aviators, toothpick, driving gloves and a scorpion backed white leather jacket. Ryan Gosling portrays his Driver character with an understated brilliance that will make this an iconic role for the man in many years to come.

Now, the supporting cast was one of my few problems with the film. Carey Mulligan is really the only one that gets longevity from the film. When you first find out that we have Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston Oscar Isaac and Albert Brooks you think, blimey? – what a great support cast, but they are all underused. This was the only thing I found disappointing with the film really. Having said that Carey Mulligan is lovely and gives us a performance of believability, she also proves that she can still do a convincing American.

Now lets talk about the style of Drive. More neon-noir than neo as it resembles something from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, with lots of 70s/80s influences – which is not a bad thing at all. The shots of the actual driving look brilliant but nothing compares to the tension filled scenes with Goslings character. Drive was more violent than I expected as well but that didn’t bother me as much, it was shocking but it didn’t seem over the top in connection to Gosling’s character. He is literally a mystery man as all we know about him is that he Drives in movies and is a mechanic. That’s it.

The soundtrack is nothing short of exhilarating with it all being mainly electronic. Very influenced by 70s/80s club music with electric keyboards, fuzzy synthesisers and angelic echoed singing and cuts through the film with a refreshing crispness.

On a whole Drive is a fantastic art-house style film. It’s one of the finest performance films by Ryan Gosling and one that will be talked about for years to come. I can see this being a future cult classic as well. Is it the masterpiece people are calling it though? That I’m not sure of but it’s damn near close.

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