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229 of 287 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Art-House Actioner That Blends Indie Cool With Mainstream Appeal: Watch Out For Spoilers And Enjoy The Ride
In a year in which Ryan Gosling could do no wrong from romantic comedy (Crazy, Stupid, Love) to political drama (The Ides of March) to this art house actioner--"Drive" stands as the apex of his career-changing film streak. I have, for many years, declared Gosling perhaps the best actor of his generation. Ever since he burst onto the film scene in the controversial "The...
Published on December 2, 2011 by K. Harris

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't bad.
No real complaints, but wasn't too impressed. Wasn't a movie I would watch more than once in a long while,
Published 4 months ago by N. J. Sirmopoulos


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229 of 287 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Art-House Actioner That Blends Indie Cool With Mainstream Appeal: Watch Out For Spoilers And Enjoy The Ride, December 2, 2011
This review is from: Drive (DVD)
In a year in which Ryan Gosling could do no wrong from romantic comedy (Crazy, Stupid, Love) to political drama (The Ides of March) to this art house actioner--"Drive" stands as the apex of his career-changing film streak. I have, for many years, declared Gosling perhaps the best actor of his generation. Ever since he burst onto the film scene in the controversial "The Believer," Gosling has eschewed being a mainstream "star." Heck, after "The Notebook," another actor might have taken a very different career path. But Gosling, despite a couple of disappointing forays into big budget Hollywood, has remained true to his indie roots. Until now, that is. This year, he seamlessly blended indie cool with mainstream appeal. Of course, in "Drive" he found the perfect filmmaker and artistic collaborator in Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn. The two began a very public bromance and have already embarked on their next film project (2012's Only God Forgives). Winding Refn is an ultra-cool writer/director whose resume is populated by some of my favorite international hits, and he picked up the Cannes Best Director prize for this. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I strongly suggest you invest in "The Pusher" trilogy--a series of films exploring the underbelly of the Copenhagen drug scene.

Well that's a lot of build-up to "Drive." But here's the thing, I'm not going to elaborate very specifically on this movie. Anyone who reveals too much is doing the movie a complete disservice. It is a film that is best left to unfold at its own pace with all surprises intact. The movie makes the most of its seedy Los Angeles setting. Gosling plays an unnamed stuntman who gets a sideline job working for a crime syndicate boss, played by an uncharacteristic Albert Brooks. All I will say is that things take an unexpected turn, and Gosling morphs from a virtually silent protagonist into a stone cold nightmare. It's an exciting transformation and one that will linger with you. This is modern noir at its finest, but with a decidedly art-house vibe. It combines an edgy urban seventies sensibility with the man-with-no-name western allure. I think many expected "Drive" to be a car movie or a non-stop action picture, but it is essentially a slow-burn character driven piece about how far one man can be pushed. But make no mistake, it continues to ramp up to extreme proportions before the blood soaked finale.

The filmmaking is top-notch throughout. There is an exquisite use of light, shadows, neon shadings, and arresting street level views of Los Angeles which make the visual appearance of the film quite spectacular. The odd techno-pop soundtrack is unorthodox, to be sure, but somehow fits perfectly. The editing and camera work is assured and edgy at the same time. And the effects are brutal and unforgettable. Add to that a great cast, and "Drive" becomes a can't miss proposition. Gosling shows a different side here, but the performance everyone will talk about is served by Brooks. Brooks paints one of the most memorable villains on screen this year, completely against type, and will probably be looking at serious awards consideration. Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Christina Hendricks help round out the cast. "Drive," ultimately, may not be for everyone and that's OK. Winding Refn has put together a near perfect film for adult audiences. If you check your expectations at the door, don't read spoilers, and settle in (oh and it helps if you aren't particularly squeamish)--this is a ride well worth taking. KGHarris, 12/11.
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130 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film you'll probably either love or loath...just look at the reviews here, February 5, 2012
By 
nvcameron (Chicago, illinois USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Drive (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Before watching this film you have to understand that this is an arthouse flick masquerading as a Gone in 60 Seconds type of film & if you're expecting Gone in 60 seconds or a Michael Bay type of action film you'll be soooo disappointed...On the other hand if you're looking for a smart superbly crafted methodically paced/shot arthouse film you'll adore this! I love both stupid action films & foreign arthouse fair so this film is a match made in heaven & one of the best films ive ever seen even though ive seen dozens of films like this(every cliché in the genre book is presented here but thats beside the point)...This film is in love with itself...Cant give it enough stars...For the folks who hate "Drive" i understand & i forgive you...lol
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning; Easily One of the Best Films of 2011, September 22, 2011
With so many films still to come this year, it can be safely said that Drive is one of the best films of 2011. I am so ecstatic about this film that I'm struggling to write about it with any coherency, afraid that I may stray into ranting and raving about how great it is. Seeing a great film (hopefully) isn't a rarity, but seeing a great film of this caliber doesn't happen too often. Rarely have I left a theater so eager to turn around and watch the same movie again, my only fear being that it couldn't possibly be as good the second time. Drive shares commonalities with last year's The American with George Clooney. Both were wide releases, marketed as action films that completely defied the expectations of their audience. The biggest difference between the two is that people went to see The American expecting an action film and were treated to alienating, slow-moving, art house fare. Drive lacks the art-house pretentions of The American and those who see it expecting an action film will be treated to something much more hypnotic and memorable than they expected. I saw Drive in an all-male, half-full theatre. Before the film began, they talked loudly with each other but went completely silent once the film began and didn't seem to move an inch until the end. Even those who are likely the target demographic for the Transformers movies were not immune to the spell this film casts.

The opening sequence is one of the best in recent years. It quietly introduces its unnamed protagonist (Ryan Gosling), the Driver, and establishes his skills as one. The sequence has no dialogue except for the police transmissions over the radio, yet few scenes are as gripping and suspenseful as this one. The Driver works for Shannon (Bryan Cranston) at his car garage, getting occasional work as a movie stuntman by day. By night, he occasionally operates as a getaway driver with a strict set of rules. The Driver is neither talkative nor effusive and has no back-story nor does he require one. Whether the Driver has any capacity for emotion isn't apparent until he meets his neighbor Irene (a stunning Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio. The three grow close, but Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) soon returns from prison. This is the catalyst for the real meat of the plot, where everything goes against expectations and Drive descends into shocking violence. It's common in modern films to have a character-driven first half and a second half driven by action and violence, which is, thankfully, not the case here. The film does reveal a violent nature, yet it bleeds into this second half with purpose.

Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, best known for directing the Tom Hardy-vehicle Bronson, this film netted Refn the award for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. With a solid script as a foundation, Refn's direction is what makes this film the experience it is. It's an exercise in style that's never too flashy or too obvious. Drive is a "throwback film," spawned from various influences to create something wholly original. The protagonist is similar to Clint Eastwood's archetypal Man with No Name, the driving scenes bring Bullitt to mind, the credit font recalls Risky Business, the music recalls 80s action films, and the cinematography and overall pacing bring French cinema to mind. Its influences are eclectic and blatant, yet this is not a film that relies on these influences to illicit recognition from viewers. Drive is not an easy film to categorize, making its wide release an act of bravery on the studio's part. Even in the composition there's a bravery rarely seen in modern cinema today. You don't often see a "mainstream" film that works as heavily with extended silences, hearkening back to a time where you didn't need to spell everything out to the audience. There are long passages of silence in, absolutely no CGI in the driving scenes, and minutes into the film I was hooked. It was apparent to me that I loved this film only twenty minutes in and not a moment where I doubted this initial assessment. Drive takes risks and pulls them off flawlessly. This is a film with scenes of (literally) heart-pounding suspense and (potentially) nauseating violence that moves with such a poetic force you're afraid to blink for fear of diminishing its effect. When watching a movie I am always aware that I'm sitting in a movie theatre, but Drive is an immersive experience that draws you into the atmosphere it has created on screen and once it gets ahold of you, it doesn't let go.

Gosling is a powerful force, portraying the Driver mostly with facial expressions, physical mannerisms, and a quiet conviction. He speaks only about twenty sentences in the film and his performance validates that he's one of the great young actors working today. To think this is the same actor from Crazy, Stupid, Love only a couple months ago is mind-boggling. Gosling was robbed of an Oscar-nomination for his heartbreaking work in 2010's Blue Valentine, but his performance is so pitch-perfect that he'll be hard to ignore this time. Also on Oscar-watch is Albert Brooks, known as a comedic actor, who defies the laws of typecasting with his terrifying performance as a Jewish mobster. Brooks is scary good in this role, nearly unrecognizable and truly terrifying. He should be a shoo-in. Ron Perlman also surprises, delivering a strong performance that begs for more roles in bigger movies.

Drive eventually reaches a stunning emotional climax that is a product of its editing as well as its execution. This is a film with a strong sense of direction, setting out to be something and never apologizing for itself or conforming to mainstream Hollywood rules. This is the most surprising film to come out of Hollywood this year, bar none. Surprising because it can be found at your local corporate cinema and surprising because of how unassumingly it sneaks up on you. Drive is a powerful, poetic, moving, existential cinematic experience that far exceeded my expectations and will undoubtedly be one of the ten best films of 2011. Few films say so much by saying so little.

GRADE: A

Before seeing Drive, I had somehow avoided all promotional materials for it. I had heard good things since it premiered at Cannes, but I had not seen a trailer nor read any reviews. Having watched the trailer after seeing the film, I urge you to avoid it. The trailer depicts Drive as an action film and will ultimately bring more people to the theatre, but it also spoils nearly every surprise and almost every scene. While the biggest surprise of Drive is how different it is from how it's depicted in the trailer, which doesn't reveal even a hint of the film's tone, your ignorance to the contents of the trailer will leave your viewing experience rewarded.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern-Day Noir in LA, March 31, 2012
This review is from: Drive (DVD)
The film's title "Drive" might be misleading. Ryan Gosling's laconic hero is a Hollywood stuntman and garage mechanic by day and getaway driver by night, but car action scenes, superb as they are, are sparse and low-key, compared to, say, "The Transporter." Based on a James Sallis book, the film is more like a crime noir about a mysterious man, whose past no one really knows.

The storyline itself is not very complicated. Some may say it is conventional. Ryan Gosling plays an unnamed protagonist, a driver wearing a scorpion-embroidered jacket, who befriends his next-door neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). To help her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), an ex-convict heavily in debt, Gosling's character agrees to do a job for him as a getaway driver.

"Drive" benefits from the capable acting from Ron Perlman and cast-against-type Albert Brooks, but it is excellent Ryan Gosling who carries the show throughout. The film is also memorable for its nice camerawork by Denmark-born director Nicolas Winding Refn ("Pusher") using the highly stylized lighting. The film's eclectic score is also effective in creating the dark mood.

"Drive," often bloody and violent, is less about car action stunts (which are very good) than about those characters, whose fates it seems are already sealed before the film begins.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An art-house film with depth and suspense!, February 7, 2012
This review is from: Drive (DVD)
Ryan Gosling has had a bang-up year! Every major movie role he's taken on this year has received critical acclaim (Crazy, Stupid, Love (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy); The Ides of March), especially this one. Let me warn any possible viewers that even though this is advertised like an action film, it is not; this is a drama that has moments of action. I said in the film listed above that Ryan Gosling is going to be on great actor status if he keeps up the pace he has. And with 2012's "The Gangster Squad," it looks like he will. In "Drive," Gosling plays the unnamed Driver who is a stunt driver by day, getaway driver by night. He is involuntarily involved with a mobster (Albert Brooks) and lives a simple, very quiet life, but things get complicated when Driver meets and falls in love with his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). Through extenuating circumstances, Driver finds himself assisting in a heist to help clear Irene's husband's debt to a gangster, but when things go majorly awry, the story really takes off! The drama is suspenseful (the beginning is one of the coolest I've seen in a long time) and constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn took a really good script from Hossein Amini (based on the novel by James Sallis) and made it great: a film that is not just good, but a philosophical, metaphorical story full of symbolism behind every scene (something Orson Welles loved doing in his films -- i.e., Citizen Kane (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition)). All around a wonderful film!
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a word, sensational., September 19, 2011
Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" is the best thriller so far in a year that hasn't lacked for good thrillers. This stylish, breathlessly exciting film has the existential chic that George Clooney strove for in "The American" but didn't quite achieve.

To describe the plot of "Drive" too closely would be a crime. Let's just say that the enigmatic, unnamed lead character (Ryan Gosling), movie stunt driver by day and getaway car driver-for-hire at night, gets into big trouble trying to help a young woman (Carey Mulligan) he's smitten with. The film slows down a bit toward the middle, but only to set up Refn's big wake-up surprise that keeps the film at fever pitch till the very end.

Refn knows how to keep the audience's adrenaline pumping, and the photography and editing are state-of-the-art. Mulligan is quite touching as the woman the driver loves, and there are noteworthy supporting performances by Oscar Isaac as Mulligan's ex-con husband; Bryan Cranston as the driver's hard-luck best friend; and especially Albert Brooks in an astonishing, career-changing role as a movie producer-turned-mobster. But the ultimate impact of the film rests on Gosling's shoulders, and he is more than able to bear the weight. He keeps us guessing constantly about this character--his face often impassive but never blank--who is capable of both great tenderness and horrifying violence. Gosling has already been compared with Steve McQueen for this role, but he reminds me even more of Robert Mitchum. He looks nothing like Mitchum, of course, but he has that same sleepy-eyed intensity suggesting deep, almost unfathomable reserves of intelligence and emotion.

At one point Brooks' character talks about the movies he produced. "One critic said they were European," he says. "I thought they were (expletive deleted)." "Drive" is European--in the best sense of the term.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is STYLIZED movie - not your brainless action flick, April 5, 2013
This review is from: Drive (DVD)
I found a surprising amount of negative reviews on Amazon, when frankly, this was THE best picture film of 2011. Why? Because it was simple but haunting and mesmerizing. You really - felt- the film, it was very atmospheric. I found myself getting absorbed into the downtown night, lights flashing by as our Driver rode down the rode, avoiding patrols in slick car maneuvers and badassary. Ryan Gosling is our main character, he's never given a name, he doesn't need one. He is merely 'Driver', and what he does defines him and the film.

If you think this is going to be a typical action flick or thriller, you're wrong. It doens't have explosions, nor does it have the usual intense adrenaline pumping thrills - no - it's far more subtle. The beauty of the work lies in this subtlety. The director layers a story with showing, not telling, which has become increasingly rare in today's cinema scape. The plot line is not complex either, but it is far from shallow; the way the director portrays the story through the artsy cinematrogophy and well chosen sequences does more to get you absorbed and intrigued than a plot heavily obscured. And you'll also find the music itself is vital to the work, from the opening sequence where Gosling drives through the city and a well placed electro piece plays in the background, you're hooked.

If you are seeking a film that takes you elsewhere with it's atmosphere and will haunt you for days after, this is worth a shot. If you are seeking an action film such as Fast and Furious - this is NOT for you. I'd like to say this a relatively mature film as well, the violence in this is raw and all the more gruesome for it. Don't let your kids watch it, they won't understand it, and will likely be haunted in a different sort of manner. But again, if you want to watch a unique film beautiful for its elements, please try this. It is engrossing in a way few films are.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Divide, April 1, 2012
This review is from: Drive (Amazon Instant Video)
If there were ever a definitive film to split audiences of films of the 1900s of audience accustomed to mainstream films of the 2000s onward then here it is. If this film were made in the 70s or 80s no one would bat an eye, however modern mouth breather Fast N Furious audiences hated this movie, which is a sure sign that there is some quality to be found. Rejoice the death and rejection of the classic art of cinema, hail the final days of humanity where voices are loud, IQs are low, and the idea of fine music and cinema is base level retardation. Give yourselves a pat on the back humanity, you had it coming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An almost perfect experience for cinephiles!, May 19, 2014
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This review is from: Drive (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This movie is very stunning. It is brilliantly shot and scored. With it's Neo-Synthpop soundtrack and use of neon lights it paints a different picture of L.A. Than the book. It has romance, action, and revenge. Driver is far more mysterious in this film and is a man of few words. The chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan does not suffer and he is portrayed more as a good natured and maybe socially awkward man whose talent as a Driver is matched by none. We see a duality in him and how the dramatic turn of events unfold a dark side to him. Here we also see the old saying "Watch out for the quiet ones" come into play as his brutality is shown. But he still remains the hero in the end.

It takes creative license in the adaption of it's source material and can stand on it's own as a derivative work. Rather than comparing and contrasting the two ad nauseum which are different and good in their own way. I would recommend both the book and movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of stuntman by day and a getaway driver at night, April 4, 2014
This review is from: Drive (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This movie initially reminded me of Michael Mann’s cinematography of the 1980s, in terms of the sound track, the vibrant colors, the use of landscapes and modes where the heroic protagonists occupy a somewhat secret world, away from ordinary concerns. There is a feel of stylishness and emotional intensity and sexual subtext and strong violence. However, where this splits from a Mann production is that at times the film has no dialogue – instead the viewer has to rely on gestures and or facial descriptions and that in its self can be disconcerting. Therefore, it is quite understandable that people will not like this type of storytelling and will reach for volume control on the remote.

One of the outstanding scenes was the elevator sequence, which was essentially a series of striking visuals and explicit imagery that’s a key example of how the film conveys so much through emotions and through the moving image as opposed to the use any spoken narrative. The use of very capable Bryan Cranston as Shannon is great casting, he seems to have such a far raging palate of characterizations. The whole casting of the film is good, and in some ways rather quirky.

To sum up then, this is a good neo-noir crime thriller film that for me really delivers. That said, and I hate to sound repetitive, but I can appreciate why there detractors as my partner is one of them.
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Drive (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
Drive (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] by Nicolas Winding Refn (Blu-ray - 2012)
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