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Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver for movies by day and moonlights as a wheelman for criminals by night. Though a loner by nature, “Driver” can’t help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband. After a heist goes wrong, Driver finds himself driving defense for the girl he loves, tailgated by a syndicate of deadly serious criminals (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman). Soon he realizes the gangsters are after more than the bag of cash and is forced to shift gears and go on the offense.
Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn makes an electrifying return to Hollywood filmmaking with this 1980s-style noir, right down to the synth score and neon-pink credits (he released his American debut, Fear X, in 2003). Ryan Gosling puts his implacable quality to good use as an L.A. stunt driver whose world crumbles when he falls for the wrong woman (Carey Mulligan). Irene is hardly a femme fatale, but her incarcerated husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is another story. When her car breaks down, Driver recommends the auto shop where he works with Shannon (Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston). The two start spending time together, but then Standard returns from prison. Driver keeps his distance until he discovers that Standard owes protection money. If he doesn't pay up, Irene and their son will suffer, so Driver offers to handle the wheel during a heist, a job with which he has more than a little experience, as the riveting opening sequence proves. While they plan their score with Blanche (Mad Men's Christina Hendricks), Shannon makes a deal with a couple of gangsters (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman), but when the plans collide: all hell breaks loose. In adapting James Sallis's novel, Refn builds to a bittersweet denouement, though the bursts of bloodshed will test even the hardiest of viewers. At its best, though, Drive is every bit as gripping as Reagan-era crime dramas like To Live and Die in L.A. and Thief. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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The film does an outstanding job of establishing mood and setting. That middle-of-the-night feeling is captured perfectly, and it only enhances what is essentially the story of a depressed, taciturn nobody who routinely endangers himself for no apparent reason, and is only too ready to endanger himself even further than usual so as to help what appears to be the only friend he has in his whole life. I didn't take the movie to be a love story so much as a story about loneliness, and a need for human connection. I'm sure he's not insensitive to the possibilities of a romantic relationship with a beautiful woman, but I honestly thought it was more so about just having someone in his life who knew that he existed. It's a very sad story in that regard.
Ryan Gosling's acting is superb. He never overdoes anything, always choosing the subtle route of less-is-more, and he pulls it off perfectly. The only thing I would say as a note of caution is that, contrary to advertisements, this is not an action film. Do not watch this film if you are hoping for non-stop explosions and chases and Van Damage. On that note, if you dislike slower pacing, scenes that function primarily to establish character and mood, and an overarching theme that is bleak and desolate, perhaps you might not like this film. For everyone else, I give it the highest possible recommendation.
"Drive" is another gritty masterpiece. It's not a movie filled with one car chase scene after another, rather, it's a movie that centralizes around the main character (Ryan Gosling) who is referred to as "kid." Obviously, the director chose for him not have a name. I'm not going to write a report on the whole plot of the movie because my intention here is to express how the movie really captured me with it's interesting characters, wonderful camera work and cinematography, rich soundtrack, terrific acting, and last but not least, the raw and brutal violence that assaults the viewer's senses with a serious dose of in-your-face type of realism.
Again, it's not a movie like "Fast and the Furious" with non-stop car chase scenes. Refn's movies tend to be very character oriented and that's exactly what we get here. The viewer gets a glimpse into the life of "driver", which reveals he is a part-time stunt driver for movies and moonlights as a get away driver for heists. He does all of this while working as a mechanic for an auto repair shop. The director did a good job of making me empathize with driver and feel what he's feeling; lonely, unsure of life and the future, longing for something more normal, longing for companionship. The movie had a very visceral effect on me and Refn seems to be very good making his movies do just that.
I loved the pace of the movie. It flowed smoothly without any plot holes. If you're in the mood for something that contains more substance instead of non-stop over-choreographed cartoonish action movies with minimal character development, than definitely give this movie a shot.
Can't praise the movie enough. The audio however, at least here on Amazon is very difficult to make out without subtitles.
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.