Drive Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: R Release Date: September 16, 2011
PLOT: A stunt driver (Gosling) also does a little dirty work on the side. He gets tangled up with the mafia and just wants to make sure a woman (Mulligan) and her child are safe.
WHO'S IT FOR? There are moments of extreme violence just like in Inglourious Basterds, but they feel warranted in this dark world. It's a slow, steady drama with moments of intense action.
EXPECTATIONS: Refn excites me as a director, and Bronson starring Tom Hardy had it's moments. I'm trying not to get too excited about Gosling, but he's had a string of great performances, and I'm hoping he can keep it up.
ACTORS: Ryan Gosling as Driver: Driver, Kid, call him what you want. Gosling has the goods. Gosling had smug charm working to perfection in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Here it's quiet, intense brooding. We don't know his past, but it seems like he's a good guy. We hope. There is a brilliant layer of worry with Driver. He just wants to go about his business and drive. The world won't let him, so he must react. And he reacts extremely well. Score: 9
Carey Mulligan as Irene: It takes a little bit of time to get used to Mulligan as a struggling lower-class mother waiting for her husband to get released from jail. Yeah, it's not An Education. Eventually, you get used to her but she never blew me away. Mulligan is great in the lead An Education and Never Let Me Go, but I haven't seen that same spark in supporting roles. Score: 6
Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose: He's so scary, it looks like even his eyebrows ran away. Bernie seems to be all business and one of those guys who just launder's money, never getting his hands dirty. Eventually, those hands get very dirty. There are some classic moments with Brooks complaining here, but the man also packs a surprising punch, or stab. Score: 9
Rest of Cast: Standard (Oscar Isaac) is Irene's husband who gets out of jail and forms an odd partnership with Driver. Christina Hendricks plays Blanche. She seems to come out of nowhere and then disappears just as quickly. It's good to see her, but I never truly felt the point of this character. Ron Perlman is Nino, who is Bernie's business party. He's over the top and I could have definitely used more. Bryan Cranston plays Shannon, a simple mechanic and the one who brings Driver into these crazy plans. Cranston makes great use out of a limp, creating immediate sympathy for the character. Score: 7
TALKING: "Why Cookie Rocket?" became the catchphrase of the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes and maybe even the summer. I'd like to present "Hey, you wanna toothpick?" for my favorite of the fall. The film starts with what you think is a voice over of Driver explaining his work to us, but he's just picking up a new client. There are long moments of silence but they help the mood of the film. Also, your ears perk up when Bernie speaks. Score: 8
SIGHTS: With the cast and style it could be the '80s except for the cell phones and a mention of Blake Griffin. Driver's scorpion jacket would make the Cobra Kai drool with jealousy. The violence only takes a few minutes but will have a lasting impact. And for a movie called Drive, yes, Driver can drive. He's not just fast, he proves to be intelligent. With the slow pacing there are some slightly odd moments, like everyone enjoying skipping stones for a little too long. Score: 8
SOUNDS: Warrior had my favorite song of the year in a movie with "About Today." Their run is already over. "A Real Hero" by College (feat. Electric Youth) is my new favorite. It bookends in the film and completely becomes the anthem for the film. Cliff Martinez, the former drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers creates a powerful synth pop musical score. Score: 10
BEST SCENE: It's tough because there are a few beautiful set pieces but the elevator with Driver and Irene is the winner here. It's the perfect showcase of what Driver wants and what he feels compelled to do. Plus, I had no idea what was going to happen.
ENDING: They brought back "A Real Hero." That was enough for me. At least I thought it was. The stand off between Driver and Bernie is great.
QUESTIONS: Look, Shannon, I know you have the limp, but you can move faster than that if the bad guys are closing in. So do it! What is Driver's past? I didn't want the movie to explain it, but I'd love to know.
REWATCHABILITY: Yes. I am really curious how the slow pacing will feel on a second viewing.
In other hands Drive would already be forgotten. After all, it sounds like another Jason Statham movie. A driver has a job go wrong, now he has to rescue a girl and go get the bad guys. It sounds like Statham, but it doesn't feel that way. In fact, that's because it makes you feel.
Drive has a unique voice and tone, from the slow pace to the shocking violence to the brilliant sounds. It's addictive just like being able to get behind the wheel of a car and punch it. Gosling is proving to be fantastic in a variety of roles and he clearly captures your attention as Driver.
Walk to go see Drive, that way you won't be tempted to gun it on the way home.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10