Drive (2011)

Really I can’t get that song out of my head, although the same can be said for the rest of Drive’s fantastic soundtrack. Even though I have not viewed the movies that inspired what currently is the best movie I’ve viewed this year, that’s irrelevant since its 70s and 80s inspired style is quite noticeable and fairly obvious. Opening the film with shots of a shiny, neon-lit metropolis, the film wastes very little time in showing us its main character, a man who truly does not have a name, who remains to the movie’s final shot a mystery really undefined.

Which makes him like other previous cinema loners, men and even women who choose to abstain from company, not letting anyone truly get close to them. Despite those who argue that The Driver has some sort of mental disorder, be it autism or something else, I disagree-he is merely a man who says very little, choosing to let his emotions and actions dictate how people respond to him instead. His truly badass 1970s car is more of an extension of his personality, but it rather reflects who he truly is-and his Scorpian coated jacket is, to quote Nic Cage in Wild At Heart, “A symbol of my individuality.”

Naturally of course something has to go and ruin his carefully planned out and perfect world, as his decision to care about someone not only leads to lots of death and violence but also, as stated by Albert Brooks’ quietly menacing gangster, that “You will be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life.” Despite all this, The Driver never stops planning ahead, striving to emerge from the mess of a situation that he really did not create in the first place. The city of LA, once a prime spot for him to make his way in the world, turns into an dangerous world that puts him in harm’s way, even more so than driving people on jobs around the city by night, or being a stunt man by day.

The cast for this movie is truly excellent, and even though characterization is a bit skimpy that can be excused when the story is air tight and the film does a great job of creating incredibly memorable and well crafted bits of montage that are very effective. Without Ryan Gosling keying this movie with a performance that is remarkable, the film wouldn’t work quite as efficiently. Acting mostly with expressions and his eyes, Gosling gives his character a strong, calm yet steely gaze that never goes away. He remains largely unflappable, choosing to express his rage only when the moment calls for it, such as in the elevator to protect Carey Mulligan’s character, or when he is forced to torture a man in front of his employees. Not to mention the fact that his scenes with Albert Brook’s Bernie are just as interesting, because Bernie does most of the talking and yet despite this the Driver never once tips his hand nor does he give the impression that Bernie actually frightens him at all.

Other notable aspects include the film’s daft handling of violence, choosing carefully when to display blood-letting, which figures in also to the movie’s overall daft touch and stunning visuals. The fact that the movie almost works as a loose version of Shane is also great, as the movie seems to mix film noir in with a western movie style that almost ignores its urban modern setting. Not to mention the finale, which is surprising and also highly fitting-despite what many people think, the film could not have ended any other way. Drive is an excellent addition to cinema, and in a world of crappy, over the top and too loud action movies such as Transfomers and the Fast and the Furious series it’s rather refreshing. Not too many movies like this come along, and when they do serious cinema fans have a duty to give them their full attention.


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