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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.