Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
A stuntman and mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver finds himself in over his head when he comes to the aid of his neighbor and her husband.
Drive is one of those rare films were one of or the only central character never gets an actual name. Ryan Gosling’s character is either referenced as “Driver” or “The Driver” or even “Kid” but he is never given an actual name. It is a difficult thing to pull off in a film and most writers and directors may keep a character mysterious and unnamed for a little bit before they reveal it. Not so here. Driver never gets a name nor a backstory beyond how he came to work for Shannon (Bryan Cranston). Nicolas Winding Refn gets points for that.
I know I will get flack for this, but I cannot help but think of this as a less fun version of The Transporter. That is not a knock on this film. This is a much more serious take on the general concept of both films. I know it is a bit of a broad statement, but you can see similarities here. Both are supposed to semi-mysterious and tough getaway drivers.
Both characters are tougher than tough guys that just drive the criminals around. The only difference is that Frank Martin (Jason Statham) will get out of the scenario relatively unscathed. The only difference is that Frank Martin would have collapse of the criminal syndicate and probably made off with the money. I never expected that out of Ryan Gosling.
And I dare say that the dialogue was delivered better in The Transporter than it was here. At least by the lead character anyway. I understand that Driver is supposed to be tough and all business but at time does it comes off as if he is just reading lines. It was as if there was a guy with cue cards just out of frame and it was the first time Gosling was seeing the dialogue. I understand they were going for tough, but it did not always work. Stone cold and tough does not equal monotone in delivery.
Irene (Carrie Mulligan), the woman that prompts Driver’s interaction with Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac), comes and goes a bit from the story. She appears at the beginning and at the end physically but only gets casually mentioned during the course of the rest of the story. I dare say she is the definition of token of love interest in a film.
I have only ever seen Albert Brooks in comedies. I am not talking about comedies that made me laugh but more like lighter films where you are supposed to laugh and nobody does. It was wonderful to see him play the criminal Bernie Rose. They did not play it safe and do something close to his other work. He was not just a nice guy type criminal but rather someone who was brutal and possibly psychotic.
I do not get why Bernie did not mess up Nino (Ron Perlman) for what he did with setting up the robbery that screws up Driver’s life. I understand they were partners, but he brought a whole host of problems down on everyone by setting up that robbery. Instead he killed one of Nino’s hench people. Just an issue I take with the story.
Drive does have a good story as well as a great atmosphere. It misses the mark a few times in performance and logic. Not the greatest film ever but it will not disappoint you.