Drive (2011) Review – A fast paced and thoroughly enjoyable ride

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Drive
(Drive - 2011 - CC. FilmDistrict)
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“There’s a hundred-thousand streets in this city. You don’t need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you’re on your own. Do you understand? Good. And you won’t be able to reach me on this phone again.” – Driver, Drive (2011).

After seeing him perform so well in The Nice Guys (2016), I decided to pursue a few more of Gosling’s films. Really it was just to see if that previous film was a one hit wonder of his. After watching Drive I can safely assure it was not in fact a one hit wonder. Gosling is a talent to the industry, and this review will hopefully explain how that may be.

Drive follows the unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling) who by day is a stunt performer in films, but moonlights as a getaway driver for the underworld. Through the help of his car mechanic friend, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), the Driver begins to get the odd job in crime. But when his neighbor’s husband is released from prison and he’s involved in a million dollar heist, everything begins to go terribly wrong. The supporting cast also includes Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks, Carey Mulligan, Christina Hendricks and Oscar Isaac.

For me one of the most important parts of any film is the musical aspect. Drive is certainly no stranger to an enjoyable soundtrack, as the film consistently proves throughout the hour and a half runtime. Songs like “A Real Hero” are used frequently and suit the tone of the film extremely well. I did briefly mention that the film is only an hour and a half wrong. Believe me, I appreciate that it’s that short. Eventually you get sick of sitting through three hour epics. To have a story simply unravel in that short a time and to be as engaging as a lengthy film is just marvellous.

The dynamic between Gosling and Cranston is excellent (Drive – 2011 – CC. FilmDistrict)

I’ve been using Drive as an example in my next big project and it seems to be a good example of hyper violence. By this I mean over the top violence that is so over the top that it takes you out of the scene. Not so bad that it breaks the pace of the film though, it’s actually very effective. The use of this hyper violence is done by directors like Quentin Tarantino. By using this it effectively reminds the audience that this is in fact a fiction. It’s on the border between impressing people and offending people. Me? I don’t get offended easily, I thought it was a genuinely marvellous spectacle.

Considering this film is as violent as I say it is, it must have something more to it. That it does, it has some amazing car chase scenes. I appreciate good cinematography and I think that’s why I enjoyed Drive so much. Good action always has some great cinematography behind it and Drive is absolutely a testament to that ideal. These action scenes are of course complimented by the actors within the film, all of whom are absolutely fantastic.

Everyone seems so well suited to their roles in this film. More specifically for me was Bryan Cranston. It’s great to see him in more roles outside of Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013), he basically plays the mentor figure well. He has surprising chemistry with Ryan Gosling and to be honest it’s one of the highlights of the film for me. While not the biggest role in the film, he certainly gives it his all, as he does with many of his performances. Everyone in this film is pretty solid, maybe one or two doubts with Ryan Gosling in the early portion of the film, but other than that he was great.

See until the end of the film I really didn’t understand the angle that Ryan Gosling was going for. He was acting like a right tosser and him not speaking all that much was just a bit weird to begin with. But once you get used to it you do realise how good his performance is. The quiet guy that doesn’t speak all that much. He’s a great performer in this film, mainly because he doesn’t have to say all that much. Honestly I just thought he was really nervous to get his big acting break and just didn’t speak out of fear. On reflection, this most likely was not the case.

Albert Brooks gives a great performance, I didn’t talk about it all that much because I would have ruined it (Drive – 2011 – CC. FilmDistrict)

His character was weird but it was a good type of weird. It wasn’t the same problem I had with Nightcrawler (2014) where the character was just difficult to relate to. No in this film there is a definite sense of mystery surrounding the Driver. I guess it’s because we don’t actually learn his name at all. Not only that but the lingering eerie feeling that Gosling gives in his role is more than enough to reflect a better narrative.

Luckily, this film just about avoids going down the route of a needless romance subplot. It’s obviously implied that there is one and going to be one, but there never is. Thankfully a couple of characters get in the way of that and we never see it blossom. Honestly the amount of tacked on romance I see in films, I’m just glad this film doesn’t manage to give it a second thought. They did however tack on some emotional moments between Gosling and a kid because every film has to pack an emotional punch apparently.

Verdict

Really what Drive is to many is a beta version of Baby Driver (2017). Now, I haven’t seen Baby Driver, however after watching Drive I don’t think I want to. Not because I don’t like Edgar Wright, but I don’t honestly think it can get any better than what I watched here. There’s something about this film that is just utterly fantastic in every sense of the word. The action is brief but great. As far as the story goes it’s one of the best told stories I have ever seen in modern cinema.

As far as I am concerned, Drive is one of the best Gosling films. That doesn’t count for much though considering I’d only seen three of his films when making notes for this. Either way, he’s quickly becoming one of my favourite actors and I’m sure films like La La Land (2016) will help. But overall, Drive is an amazing film that you should go and watch right now. If anything, just to see Ron Perlman pretend he’s black. Yes, that does happen. Sort of. Go find out.


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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Drive
Ewan Gleadow
I've been writing for various different places for roughly four or five years now. Currently focusing my writing on film reviews, politics and occasional game reviews. Hopefully you enjoy my work, be sure to contact me if you have any criticisms or praise.

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