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Review: Drive (TIFF 2011)

Drive (TIFF 2011)
09.09.2011
10 10


PLOT: A Hollywood stunt-driver (Ryan Gosling), who moonlights as a getaway driver, falls for a young mother- Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband, Standard (Oscar Issacs) has just gotten out of jail. When Irene and her son are threatened, the driver and Standard are forced to pull off a daring daytime robbery. When the job goes south, the driver finds himself in the cross-hairs of a mobster (Ron Perlman) and his vicious associate (Albert Brooks).

REVIEW: I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for DRIVE. Nicolas Winding Refn's BRONSON landed on my top ten a few years ago, and immediately marked him as a director to watch- and when I found out he was doing a noir-style action thriller with Ryan Gosling, I was pumped to say the least.


That said, I had no idea just how good DRIVE would be. I had an inkling that this might be something special after the film cleaned up at Cannes, but it was the first trailer that really knocked me on my ass. Something about the images Refn captured of L.A at it's seediest, combined with the amazing music from the Chromatics, and a sample from Riz Ortolani's score from CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST really moved me, and from that moment on, I was obsessed with seeing DRIVE.

Being a Montrealer, I missed out on all the early screenings, but as they say, good things come to those who wait, and having finally caught it as part of TIFF, I'm glad- no, thrilled, to report that DRIVE is everything I expected it to be and more.


A lot of folks have been saying that DRIVE is heavily reminiscent of early Michael Mann, and I agree, especially if you compare this to THIEF. It also has obvious parallels with Walter Hill's THE DRIVER, but DRIVE is not a pastiche of other films. No, DRIVE is markedly original, to the point that I'm quite sure that if Michael Mann, or Walter Hill were given the script to DRIVE, they would have made something that wouldn't remotely resemble the film Refn delivered.

Granted, the whole “getaway driver with a heart of gold” thing has been done before, but DRIVE still feels wholly original. Gosling's nameless character is a fascinating figure. Soft spoken, and polite, he avoids any kind of macho posturing (minus his trademark jacket with a scorpion on the back). He's portrayed as an extremely noble figure, reminiscent of golden age gunslingers like SHANE, and he treats Carey Mulligan's Irene, along with her son Benicio, with care, and respect- to the extent that he never even dares to make a pass at the married Irene. He's also kind to his nice-guy boss, an aging, crippled mechanic played by the great Bryan Cranston, who rides his coat-tails in the hope of turning the young driver into a race-car driver.

Of course, being an action flick, there's another side to Gosling's character. There's a line you do not cross with him, and when you cross this line, as many (MANY) baddies do in the film, you die. Badly. Imagine shotgun blasts to the face, hammers, knives and boots being used to cave in a face, and you get the idea.

Before this, I would have never pegged Gosling as the heir apparent to the kind of action-cool that was personified in the sixties and seventies by guys like Steve McQueen. I've always liked him, but I always took him as a straight drama guy, but he can go toe-to-toe with any action icon you dare to mention.


Teamed with the startlingly original Refn, and you've got a star-filmmaker pair that I hope continues making films together for years to come. Refn's work behind the camera is startling, with him catching the neon grit of L.A, with DP Newton Thomas Siegel, extraordinarily well- with a touch of stylization to give it a cool, eighties- MTV/MIAMI VICE vibe that I loved. And the soundtrack- good lord. It's amazing. Since catching the film forty-eight hours ago, I've been listening to it on a loop, and the way the phenomenal tracks by diverse acts like Kavinsky, College, and Desire are used reminds me of the kind of great pop soundtracks that used to be expected in the eighties, as opposed to the mediocre studio-mandated mixes we get on most films (no Top 40 here, thank God). Additionally, DRIVE also boasts a terrific synth-score by Cliff Martinez, that plays homage to the great scores of Giorgio Moroder, and Tangerine Dream, particularly the latter's work on THIEF and SORCERER.

Another crazy touch that Refn brings to the film is the wild, against-type casting of Albert Brooks as the main villain, Bernie Rose; who's something like Jerry Bruckheimer gone gangsta. If it sounds ridiculous, don't worry, it's not. Brooks is firmly grounded, which, for my money makes him an even more memorable baddie. If you grew up watching Brooks as the lovable nebbish from DEFENDING YOUR LIFE and MOTHER, boy oh boy, are you in for a shock. Brooks is downright iconic as this cold-blooded businessman who's not portrayed as cruel or psychotic, but rather as a guy doing what he has to do to keep what he thinks is his due. He's a reluctant killer, but at the same time, he's capable of cutting a guy's Adam’s apple out with a straight-razor just to prove a point.

Suffice to say, DRIVE gets a perfect score from me. It's really exciting that in the space of two weeks we get not one, but two amazing films (this and WARRIOR), produced with modest budgets, and aimed at a grown-up audience (it should be noted, DRIVE is ultra-violent, but in a HISTORY OF VIOLENCE kind of way, meaning not over the top or comical). Please, please, PLEASE get out and support these two movies, as this is the kind of film Hollywood needs to be making- in that it works not only as entertainment, but also as art. And make no mistake, DRIVE is art.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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-15
11:58PM on 09/20/2011

Unpopular Opinion

I'd like to write the unpoular opinion column for this movie. It tries to be so many things and falls painfully short. And the 80's synth music with the Scorpion Jacket made it feel so like it was trying so hard to establish Goslings character, just overdone and underacted. Ron Perlman was the bright spot. Also, the story was so predictable, I knew 20 minutes in how it would all end. Don't see the magic here, sorry. And I usually love this type of movie, was disappointed that I didn't enjoy
I'd like to write the unpoular opinion column for this movie. It tries to be so many things and falls painfully short. And the 80's synth music with the Scorpion Jacket made it feel so like it was trying so hard to establish Goslings character, just overdone and underacted. Ron Perlman was the bright spot. Also, the story was so predictable, I knew 20 minutes in how it would all end. Don't see the magic here, sorry. And I usually love this type of movie, was disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.
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11:31PM on 09/18/2011
just got back from watching this..spot on review chris..fucking great flick
just got back from watching this..spot on review chris..fucking great flick
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3:03AM on 09/18/2011

Just got back from this, here's my take -

I felt it was TOO deliberate. Each shot, was just that - a shot. I do think there were some magical shots in the film and a few moments that were iconic like (fav scene is when he fades into the shadows after killing the 2 goons - that was great) but in the end it tries too hard to be cool and deliberate. 7/10
I felt it was TOO deliberate. Each shot, was just that - a shot. I do think there were some magical shots in the film and a few moments that were iconic like (fav scene is when he fades into the shadows after killing the 2 goons - that was great) but in the end it tries too hard to be cool and deliberate. 7/10
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2:25PM on 09/12/2011

That review may have changed my mind..

Initially I was dogging this movie hard, but Bronson was awesome and if it's in a mode of Michael Mann then I'll give it a whirl...
Initially I was dogging this movie hard, but Bronson was awesome and if it's in a mode of Michael Mann then I'll give it a whirl...
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+1
2:43AM on 09/10/2011
I'm so very happy with all the good reviews this is getting. This is a film I have wanted to see since the first trailer and I'm excited for it. I'm certainly hoping this is one that will make my best of the year list.
I'm so very happy with all the good reviews this is getting. This is a film I have wanted to see since the first trailer and I'm excited for it. I'm certainly hoping this is one that will make my best of the year list.
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6:16PM on 09/09/2011
Man i have been waiting patiently to see this film.I cant wait for next friday. Im so stoked for this. It better get the oscar noms it clearly deserves!!
Man i have been waiting patiently to see this film.I cant wait for next friday. Im so stoked for this. It better get the oscar noms it clearly deserves!!
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11:43AM on 09/09/2011
man, i cannot WAIT another week. hopefully the gf gets a screening invite. but i'm there friday again regardless. looks so damn good.
man, i cannot WAIT another week. hopefully the gf gets a screening invite. but i'm there friday again regardless. looks so damn good.
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11:07AM on 09/09/2011
My most anticipated movie of the year, ever since they announced its casting way back. Refn is a true artist.
My most anticipated movie of the year, ever since they announced its casting way back. Refn is a true artist.
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+6
9:57AM on 09/09/2011
Cool! And yes this needs much support and is the kind of stuff we need to see more of, well done creative.
Cool! And yes this needs much support and is the kind of stuff we need to see more of, well done creative.
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9:35AM on 09/09/2011
If this ever comes to NZ I'll eat my shoe.
If this ever comes to NZ I'll eat my shoe.
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8:05AM on 09/09/2011
Can't fucking wait!
Can't fucking wait!
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+7
7:46AM on 09/09/2011

FUCKING A !!!!

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