Drive (2011)


Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writers: Hossein Amini, James Sallis

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Kaden Leos, Jeff Wolfe, James Biberi, Russ Tamblyn, Joe Bucaro III, Tiara Parker, Tim Trella, Jim Hart, Tina Huang, Andy San Dimas, John Pyper-Ferguson, Craig Baxley Jr., Kenny Richards, Joe Pingue, Dieter 'Dietman' Busch, Chris Muto, Rachel Belle, Cesar Garcia, Steve Knoll, Mara LaFontaine, Teonee Thrash, Ralph Lawler, Sarah Adela Tirado

Synopsis: A mysterious man who has multiple jobs as a garage mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a getaway driver seems to be trying to escape his shady past as he falls for his neighbor - whose husband is in prison and who's looking after her child alone. Meanwhile, his garage mechanic boss is trying to set up a race team using gangland money, which implicates our driver as he is to be used as the race team's main driver. Our hero gets more than he bargained for when he meets the man who is married to the woman he loves.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity.

Arguably one of the most under rated movies of last year

Although it seems kind of sad that "Drive" was largely snubbed by the Oscars, but I wouldn't let that deter you from seeing this film. No, "Drive" is surprisingly one of the best films of last year, as it not only carries a strong character driven story arc, but it features some of the best acting you'll ever see in a movie. Sadly, the film suffers from it's poor advertising campaign, as it's been said the trailers to this movie make it come off as a Hollywood blockbuster action film, but it's more along the lines of a internally conflicted character study of a man that finds himself in rather complicated situation that could put him at ends with the mafia.

Indeed, some people may not care for this style of film making, as most of the acting in this movie reserved, while showing the actors saying very little to nothing throughout most of the film. However, in spite of little dialogue we hear these characters say, you can still sense the intensity and feelings these characters go through. In fact, that part of the film's charm, as it manages to convey so much while saying very little.

The movie essentially follows a stunt driver for various films, who moonlights as a getaway driver for various criminal activities. We're never told too much about the character's background, nor do we ever learn why he chooses to moonlight this way. Heck, we never even find out what his real name is either, as he's simply referred to as "The Driver" (Ryan Gosling). However, we do know that part of his deal on every assignment is that he merely drives the getaway car for these criminals, and nothing more. He never plans out the heist with them, nor does he carry a gun to help them either. No, he merely drives them away the instant the job is done, and he walks away relatively unscathed after losing the cops.

As the movie plays out, Ryan Gosling plays an internally conflicted character, who doesn't say much, nor do we ever learn fully what he's thinking. However, it's through his quiet subtle demeanor that the audience can somehow relate to his character. In a lot of ways, this movie reminds me of George Clooney's "The American"; where it too featured an interestingly engaging character study of a protagonist that we barely know, but somehow we find ourselves immensely drawn into the character's plight.

Like Gary Oldman in "Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy", Ryan Gosling does an excellent job conveying his character through his quiet, yet subtle demeanor. Although he says very little, but whenever he does have something to say, you know it's going to be something potent to the story, and possibly reveal a bit more about the demeanor of his character. Sure, he may not say much, but he still manages to convey a strong performance that's truly worthy of an Oscar nomination. It's a real shame he was snubbed this year for one, but that's life for you.

To get back to the rest of the story, driver's life gets even more complicated when he meets a married woman named Irene (Carey Mulligan) , and her son. As luck would have it, Irene's husband is currently serving time in jail, but through a series of events, Driver develops a bit of a strong relationship with both of them. Although both Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling say very little to each other, you can still sense the deep relationship between the two; while also sensing innate feelings towards each other that resonates quite well on screen. In fact, one could say that it's almost amazing how well both of them convey their characters rather well off each other; even though they hardly say anything to each other at all.

Without giving away much more, Irene's husband gets out of jail, but he's in debt to the mafia, due to hiring their protection while spending time in prison. Needless to say, this predicaments puts Irene and her son in danger, so Driver steps in offering to help. He offers to drive the getaway car for one last heist that supposedly will clear his debt to the mafia, but things don't go according to plan. I would go on to explain what else happens, but that would be giving away too much of the film. However, I will say that what transpires from here is an epic crime suspense thriller piece like no other.

Not only is the cinematography, sound editing and direction of this film perfectly laid out, to set up the atmosphere and tone of the movie itself, but you almost have to applaud how introspective this movie manages to be. Sure, we don't really know what the characters are thinking about half the time, and we barely even know much about our main protagonist, yet it still manages to be arguably one of the deepest crime thrillers ever created on the big screen.

Indeed, Nicolas Winding Refn does an excellent job establishing the tone of the movie early on, as it slowly pulls in it's audience into a world full of dangers; while offering one of the most unique character study films ever conceived.

As for Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, what can I really say about them that hasn't been said already? Ron Perlman does an excellent job playing a petty thug, who seems to come off too big for britches; while Albert Brooks plays an excellent antagonist in this film. Albert Brooks rarely raises his voice in this movie, but you can still sense an innate amount of intimidation through his scenes whenever the movie requires him to be menacing.

Although the trailers make this movie seem like an obvious action movie, I should warn viewers that this is more of a dramatic thriller piece that offers a lot more subtlety if anything else. In the end, I would definitely have to give this movie a four out of four rating, as it's truly one of the most under rated movies of last year.

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Comments 12 comments

TripleD 4 years ago

Best movie of 2011 and not only not in your top ten list, but took you nearly 6 months to review. WOW............. Glad you made time to write a review for Twilight, though, when it dropped.

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

Actually if you read my "Oscar Results of 2012", I did address your query about why it didn't make my top ten. Whenever you compile a top ten list of movies, there's always going to be a chance that a film will be left out, but you can easily pencil that film in as my 11th favorite movie of last year, as stated in the final Oscar hub.

As for the "Twilight" review, you have to keep in mind that it's all about marketing, and putting up the reviews that your readers want, and not what I want to review exclusively. Trust me, if i was only reviewing movies that i wanted, then you'd see nothing but anime, superhero films, criterion films and etc over movies like "Twilight." However, "Twilight" is still a fairly popular franchise that generates a lot of hits, so I do consider it an obligation to review that film. Plus, with the final movie coming out this year, I figured it'll more than likely generate more traffic upon the final movie's release. Again, this is all about marketing.

I know that sounds bad, but to quote one of my favorite comedies, "Joe Dirt", "It's not about what you want brother, as it's about the consumer." lol. Oh well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this. Thanks for stopping by. lol.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

You're right, this is a great movie, and a very masterly performance by Ryan Gosling. He's a really good actor, in a very laid-back way. I think that's why audiences didn't respond, just because you have to be fairly au courant with acting to understand what Ryan and the director were doing with his part. When a part is underplayed rather than more forcefully presented, sometimes your mainstream audiences can't get into that.

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head with that analysis, as I can definitely see how this movie wouldn't appeal to most mainstream audiences. However, it's still one of the better films of last year. Anyway, thanks for sharing some of your thoughts with us paradise, as it's always good hearing from you. :)

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

I loved this movie, I am sure the fact that it was not action packed all the way through the movie will make some people say it is boring...but that is what I liked about the movie. Albert Brooks in a very small role, has a screen presence I have never seen him have before...and makes a great bad guy....his controlled rage makes him so much more scary than other over the top bad guys. Between Drive and Crazy Stupid Love...Ryan Gosling has turned me into a fan of his work...I am even looking forward to The Ides of March....which has not one of my favorites, George Clooney, as a actor and a director....voted up and useful.

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

Yeah, it's a shame this movie didn't get a lot of attention last year, as it truly a great film. Plus, you're right that Ryan Gosling definitely seems like he's becoming Hollywood's next big name actor, as I'm a bit of a fan of his as well. Anyway, I hope you like "The Ides of March." If it's any consolation, George only has a supporting role in the movie, so that might help you enjoy it better; knowing you're not much of a fan of his. lol. Anyway, thanks for stopping by again pal. :)

Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 4 years ago from Columbia, MD

Gosling and the director are teaming up again to remake the sci-fi classic Logan's Run.

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

That's cool. Well hopefully it works out well for both of them. It should be interesting to see what happens. thanks for the inside scoop.

TripleD 4 years ago

Good to know you choose to give precedence on film reviews with commercialized garbage (because it gives the most hits, right?) instead of just reviewing films as they come out. Then again, you did quote 'Joe Dirt,' so I guess that answers my question on the validity of your reasoning here. Oh well whatever.

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

Give precedence to commercialized garbage? You do realize that seeing movies not only take up a lot of money, but valuable time right? Plus, hubpages doesn't exactly pay the bills, so I have work around my regular job, and school; which take more priority over reviews. Therefore, i have to prioritize which movies that I review as well. unfortunately, I have to make current blockbuster films a higher priority because they generate more hits.

you add that into the fact that I fell drastically behind last year on my reviews, then that explains the reasoning. i was going to review "drive" earlier this year, but when the oscar nominations were announced, it had to take less priority because it wasn't nominated in a major category. again, it's all about priority. besides, it's not like I have an unlimited budget, and time to see every damn movie that comes out to review them.

Bigpayno profile image

Bigpayno 4 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

I found this movie a little slow going in the beginning. It was a decent movie all in all. Amazing killing scenes as well! I'm with ya Steven, I try to write my hubs between work full time and school full time. I do this because I have a passion for sports and will hopefully have my own column one day on a sports site. You're doing a great job on the hubs man, keep it up!

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago Author

Thanks Bigpayno. I appreciate the support, and you be sure to keep up the good work also, as you're definitely a great sports writer. I know it's not easy balancing out school and work with writing on here, but anything worth doing is never easy. Anyway, thanks again for stopping by. :)

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