A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.
Writers: Hossein Amini (screenplay), James Sallis (book)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Popcorn Score: Large Popcorn with Butter
I am a little speechless after seeing Drive. Perhaps the character know only as “Driver” played by Ryan Gosling, wore off on me a little over the course of the film. He is a man of very few words, to say the least. It is a part that I can imagine Gosling jumped at the opportunity to play because he gets to play a badass, stoic tough guy, drive fast cars in an excellent movie, and hardly had to learn any lines!
The movie opens with Driver driving for a midnight robbery. He is precise with his directions to the criminals that they have 5 minutes to perform the heist or he is gone, but even more precise with his maneuvering of the Los Angeles City streets to escape from the pursuing police. That is his part time job.
By day he works as an auto mechanic for the shop run by Shannon (Bryan Cranston). Shannon is a master mechanic who often provides the cars that Driver uses in his 2nd life but is also a fairly innocent low man in the gangster operations of Nino (Ron Perlman) and Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks). These men are gangsters and we learn are very willing to kill to keep themselves afloat. Bernie Rose is a producer of sorts making low budget films in which Driver will often stunt drive for.
The story is a slow moving piece. As I mentioned there are few words spoke by the central character, but there is a ton of emotion and a lot at stake. The movie moves along fairly ambiguously for the first half and I was not sure in which direction the movie was going.
The plot thickens when Driver starts to fall for his neighbor Irene played by Carey Muligan. The Driver, Irene and her son Benicio become close, but the rest of the movie is far from a love story. It becomes a tangled mess of crimes that Driver gets himself into. Brought upon by Irene’s recently released from prison, husband. Driver is launched into trouble with the mob that he will do anything to get himself out of, but most importantly keep Irene and her child safe.
The rest of the movie is brilliant. It keeps you on the edge of your seat with very calculated suspense and action. It’s a classic movie that shows, not tells you what is happening and it takes you along on a great ride.
Despite the simplified title, this movie isn’t for the summer blockbuster action movie freaks. I remember the opening night at the AMC I often go to, had lines out the door for Drive. I was not going to see it that night but I recall looking at the crowd and seeing a ton of high school gear head types, with a lot of Fox racing and Nascar gear on. It looked like the same crowd that lined up for the Fast and the Furious series. I would guess that crowd didn’t exactly get what they thought they were in for. It is a sleek and sexy film using the backdrop of an almost 80’s like nighttime watercolor painting. It is much more of the patient, particular genre than those that slap you in the face with car chases, flips, explosions and sex. It is a first of its kind, one of a kind action/gangster film that I believe is perfectly executed and truly brilliant.
Large Popcorn with Butter.