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Drive (2011 film)

A 2011 film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and based on the novel by James Sallis.

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A flawless marriage of sound and imagery.

  • Mar 15, 2012
**** out of ****

A lone, unnamed driver (Ryan Gosling) takes a nightly stroll through Los Angeles; with the illuminating city lights making way for the path that is the road. The Driver parks his vehicle in front of an anonymous building; and two masked men nearby proceed to enter. They emerge with a bag full of cash. They get into the Driver's car. He takes them to a parking garage; never speaking to them on the way. They don't know his name, and neither do we; but that doesn't matter. What matters is that the Driver has helped an unlikely cause; he has single-handedly assisted a two-man (and now three-man) heist. But he's clearly not in it for the money. No, is he was; he would have killed the men sitting in the backseat before they even sat down. He would have taken the money and drove off into the night. But instead, he settles down in the parking lot; and allows the three of them to resume their lives, never to speak again. That's just one night in the life of the Driver.

He upholds three jobs; by night, he is sometimes a getaway driver (as we saw in the opening sequence), and by day, he is both a stunt driver for movies and an employee at a local city garage, owned by an older man named Shannon (Bryan Cranston). He does more than just have the Driver fix up defunct cars; he also sets up his nightly jobs as they come in. The Driver lives a double life, and while it may seem like a life more or less interesting, it's not quite as thrilling as one might think. From the moment that we meet him onwards, we know that the Driver is the strong and silent type; intimidating, handsome, intelligent, but seemingly unable to communicate with those who have employed him as their driver to what is ultimately a heist/crime scene. His character can be interpreted in either one of two ways: he can be seen as an anti-social-type with hints of Asperger's Syndrome in his character, or he can be a tribute character to Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name. He definitely shows many signs of the first.

The Driver lives in an apartment complex, seldom speaking with any of his neighbors. But one day, he sees a beautiful girl - who also happens to be his neighbor). She is Irene (Carey Mulligan), a beautiful and simple young woman living at home with just a small child to care for. When she shows kindness and hospitality towards the Driver, he cannot resist. However, he is told that Irene has a husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), who is to finally return home from much time spent in jail. Irene is given a week's notice. The Driver is slightly intimidated by this; although not by the obvious implications in the eyes of Standard when he does come back, only to meet our hero. One might anticipate that the two will fight over the lady; and that might have been the case, but the Driver is a more complex man, and so the story chooses to take a completely different direction.

Standard owes a guy a lot of money. He can't pay it off, and the man who demands the cash has already threatened to come after Irene and the kid after he's finished dealing with him. Standard tells the Driver of his troubles, and so he feels the need to get involved; for the sake of his new-found love interest and her young child. He makes a negotiation with the enemy to drive Standard - and the bosses' right-hand-woman Blanche (Christina Hendricks) - to steal a large sum of money from a pawn shop. Sure enough, they're able to get the cash; but Standard is shot dead on the spot, with the Driver discovering the darker and truer intents of Blanche; who had planned to double-cross Standard and the Driver to take the money for herself and the boss. Not too soon after revealing this information to the Driver, she is shot dead by hitmen who were sent to kill both her and the hero. They kill one; and one kills them. Now, Driver must track down the original owner of the money that Blanche had successfully stolen; tracing it back to a Pizzeria owner named Nino (Ron Perlman), who works closely with notorious mobster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks). Ironically, the two of them have just made a deal with the Driver and his boss at the garage; for Bernie to invest in a race car and the Driver, who will drive it (of course) in order to get the stocks up.

Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" is such a fascinating and ambitious film that I feel as if I've spoiled a bit too much as it is. Adored by critics and fans from the moment that it first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival early 2011; it enjoys a high status amongst film buffs and aficionados worldwide as something new, stylish, and ridiculously entertaining. And so it is all of those things. But I think it's also worth mentioning that on top of being wickedly engaging, ultra-violent, and thoroughly intriguing; it's also a deeply philosophical movie that pays homage to a great many films (particularly the existentialism of Jodorowsky), without becoming them entirely. Refn has had some substantial experience directing before this one (he did good work on "Bronson", "Valhalla Rising", and the "Pusher" trilogy), but I feel this is probably his most complete film yet. It is a flawless marriage of sound and imagery; with stunning sights and stimulating sounds. The protagonist drives through L.A. listening mostly to modern pop; and it's made clear that Refn must have put a lot of effort into choosing a good tune for each scene where he felt one was appropriate.

2011 was a good year for Ryan Gosling. He starred in a total of three Blockbusters, including this one; although "Drive" is easily his greatest achievement yet. For any year, for any movie, for anything; this is the sort of movie that has no limits to what it can do with these fantastic actors. They are the driving force of the film, and its story; which is not too much about the physical act of driving a car, but more likely what drives human beings to do what they do. For the Driver, love is his reason. It's why he stays in when he kept telling himself to get the hell out. It's why he's shoving bullets into the mouths of balding gangsters. For the Driver, love controls everything. Well, love and pop music.

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March 16, 2012
This was real good. Subtle, violent and very gritty. Brooks should've at least gotten a nomination for his performance. Excellent review.
More Drive (2011 film) reviews
review by . October 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
  Drive is a “love-it-or-hate-it” kind of movie, fortunately though I love it enough for several theaters full of those that full into the latter category. It’s admittedly mismarketed, and its art house sensibilities along with its strong emphasis on style is going to push plenty away expecting a more traditional thriller. However for those of us on the nerdier side of the film fence, “Drive” is the film equivalent of taking LSD, it’s simply a dream. The …
review by . September 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting much when I went to see “Drive” but I knew for certain that it was one of those art house movies that critics usually like. At first impression, I thought I was going to be in for one of those movies like “The Driver” (1978) kind of deal, or something similar to Luc Besson’s “The Transporter”. I became curious because of the mixed reviews here, and to put everything in a nutshell, it feels more like “Le Samourai“ …
review by . September 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Drive' 'Two Jews On Film' Think This Over The Top Thriller Stalls (Video)
      Ryan Gosling is 'Driver'.  He fast...If you're a burglar, he's your go-to guy.  Just make sure you get the job done in five minutes.  Because that's all you got...One minute late, Driver is gone.      Now, driving a get-a-way car is Driver's night job.   His day job is slightly more glamorous.  Driver is a stunt driver for movies...That is, when he's not working as a mechanic, …
review by . September 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         In Drive, Ryan Gosling plays a man who isn’t given a proper name. He’s known only as Driver. It’s a fitting description, given the way cars factor into his daily life. By day, he works for a mechanic named Shannon (Bryan Cranston) and is an occasional Hollywood stunt driver. By night, he’s a wheelman for criminals in need of a quick getaway. Although he’s not a warrior in the traditional sense, Driver is as starkly …
review by . September 15, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Ryan Gosling is capable of almost anything, and has left little doubt that he is one of the brightest stars in Hollywood. He has can play the heartthrob and romantic like in TheNotebook, he can be a heart breaker like inBlue Valentine, he can be funny and charming like in Crazy, Stupid, Love. In the last movie mentioned he stepped out of his comfort zone and tried a comedy. He is often very adventurous in his roles and always knocks then out of the park. In Drive he seems to …
review by . September 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   After you'll finish watching Drive you'll know you just watched something special, something rarely seen on the big screen. Drive takes all the classic elements of passionate filmmaking and revives them with a new modern look, sound and atmosphere that will keep you excited like a little kid on the edge of your seat. Audience's reaction to this is diverse. Some claim that the movie is too pretentious, some claim that the movie is silly and doesn't have enough action, …
review by . September 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Hyper Drive
DRIVE Written by Hossein Amini Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks and Albert Brooks   Irene: What do you do? Driver: I drive.   Every now and again, a movie comes along and takes you for a ride you don’t soon forget. It straps you in with its fresh cinematic voice and doesn’t let you go until it has raced through your mind, taken some crazy turns and pulled back into the garage again.  When …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie



Movies, Movie, Drama, Review, Crime Drama, Julian Left, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Ryan Gosling, Ron Perlman, Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn, Christina Hendricks


Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: September 16, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Hossein Amini
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: FilmDistrict, Odd Lot Entertainment, Seed Productions
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