Drive (2011)

The one thing that I kept thinking during “Drive” was “1980’s films.”

A lot of this has to do with the musical score, full of pulsing analog synths. Also, some of the Los Angeles locales reminded me of 80’s nuggets like “To Live and Die in L.A.”

Anyway…

“Driver” follows the unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling), a taciturn guy who drives. That sounds obvious, but driving is what he does. He does stunt driving for movies. He does getaway driving for criminals. He gets recruited to drive stock cars. And, when he takes his cute neighbor out at night, they just ride around.

The Driver works for Shannon (Bryan Cranston), who owns a garage and helps arrange stuntwork for the Driver. Shannon is tied to a mobster named Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks), whose partner is an evil brute named Nino (Ron Perlman).

Life is fine, until the Driver meets his neighbor Irene and her young son (Carey Mulligan and Kaden Leos). The Driver likes Irene, despite the fact that her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is in prison and soon to be released.

Things happen, many of them bad, and various people die.

There isn’t much plot in “The Driver,” so I won’t heap on the details.
That’s not a diss, either. I like “The Driver.”

One of my movie pet peeves is when a “normal” character gets involved in a car chase, and suddenly drives like Richard effin’ Petty. There are a few chases in “The Driver,” and I loved seeing the Driver–a professional stunt driver–ably outdrive his opponents. Of COURSE he can outdrive them!

“The Driver” is not an exciting film, nor is it boring. I felt like I was in one of those dreams, where you feel like you’re moving underwater.

What “The Driver” lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in atmosphere. Ryan Gosling was nominated for a handful of awards for playing the Driver. He was excellent, but I don’t think he was robbed by not getting an Oscar nomination. Albert Brooks won a bunch of supporting actor awards, and his performance was great. Still, he didn’t get an Oscar nod either. In my opinion, he deserved to be nominated to lose to Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor (Mr Plummer seems like the only lock this year)

Another big problem I have with movies in general is when a character fires 20 shots from a revolver without reloading. That’s just sloppy.

This didn’t happen here. In “The Driver,” the sloppiness was in its sound. More than a couple times, the Driver would be hauling ass down the road, and we hear the engine roar as he shifts gears…up through like ninth gear. Maybe I’m a dork for noticing, or maybe it’s just that I drive a five-speed so I’m aware of shifting, but that bugged me.

Perhaps ironically, care to guess what The Driver’s lone Oscar nomination was? Best Achievement in Sound Editing. Perfect.

Grade: B/B+

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5 Responses to “Drive (2011)”

  1. Ha!
    I so hate when sloppy stuff like that happens, too. The revolver that never empties. The car with infinite gears. I mean….you’re telling a story, you’ve got time to research everything and at least get the simple things right!

    I think there are a lot of us “dorks” that roll our eyes during movies/tv because some very simple things get screwed up.

    I’ll be yelling at the tv “That’s not a mouse, that’s a vole!” ….get things right, people.

    • Jurassic Park was ruined for me during the little movie they showed at Dino World or whatever, when they showed the scientists sucking blood out of the fossilized mosquito…a MALE, which never would have drawn blood!

      Sheesh. If I’d had an infinite revolver, I’d have shot up the screen. Nerdz rule!

  2. This’ll be one of those rare times I disagree with you about a movie, Tom. I saw this movie and was bored stiff. Except for a few moments of frenetic violence, like the elevator scene, which is a new classic, 99 percent of the movie was closeups of Gosling’s unmoving face — nothing to watch here, folks. That may be his character, but for me it made it a slow movie that felt like it was in park. I see it getting all these raves, so I know I’m in the minority on this one.

    • I understand your take completely. One review I read said something like, “This movie is saved by its supporting characters.” Very true. I liked “Drive” for the atmosphere it created against the blank canvas of Ryan Gosling’s face. I thought everyone bordered on caricature, which somehow worked for me.

      It wasn’t like anything else I’ve seen recently, and I can see myself watching it again.
      But Best Director winner and Palm D’Or nominee at Cannes? Nah.

  3. Frankly, I’ve still never seen anything as kinetic as the wrong-way car chase in “To Live and Die in LA”. Particularly when you consider that we had no CGI back then, so it’s all real guys in cars, and they really did have to jackknife a big rig. I should watch that again.

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