I saw Drive last night. It stars Ryan Gosling from Notebook Fame, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn who might know from Bronson and written by Hossein Amini who peneed the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman. The story is nothing new, which isn’t unlike anything in the history of ever. But here’s the short of it; a movie stunt driver, Gosling, has a part time job as a driver for heists. Insert Carey Mulligan who breaks him out of his world of darkness with the possibility of genuine human connection. The driver drives, and he drives well. Sound like a story we’ve heard a million gazillion times right? The Driver, The Professional aka Leon, The Killer, Le Samourai, Thief, Punisher: Warzone…
The good; the font, it’s pink, it’s there, it’s retro, I love it. Reminds me of an 80s movies, like Heathers and Risky Business, when I see the font I think of something completely harmless and non-violent, like a weenie-bopper movie about high school-goings-ons. I also think of the colors from Miami Vice. The pink cursive font might mislead people, but it makes you wonder right? From the trailer the movie looks like something from the likes of The Fast and The Furious and then the pink font, makes you think twice. Gosling also wears a very retro satin jacket.
The soundtrack, keeping in line with the retro-rifick font the soundtrack is very synth, I love it. The driving scenes, amazing, just simply wonderful, it’s nice to see practical stunt driving. At one point Gosling uses a Mustang… is that a nod to McQueen and Bullitt? hmm? And what’s more, they shot on location in LA, instead of going to Vancouver to mask as LA, very much like a Michael Mann film to shoot in LA (Heat, Collateral). Speaking of Michael Mann, they shot this movie digitally and the color in a lot of the shots is great. There’s a certain way that Newton Thomas Sigel handled the cinematography when lighting Gosling at night while driving, seeing the glint in his eyes amidst the darkness was a nice touch.
Gosling’s character as simply the Driver is a throw back to Walter Hill’s The Driver who had Ryan O’Neal as the titular character… coincidence? conspiracy? … anyways, Gosling pretty much plays The Man With No Name like Eastwood did for Sergio Leone, he does have lines, but they’re very very minimal. Gosling’s character was shrouded in mystery and violence, dipping in secret sauce – and it works, unlike Craig in Cowboys and Aliens.
One more thing, there’s a reference to the fable about the scorpion and the frog, no explanation, just a reference, love how that wasn’t spoon fed.
The bad; I honestly don’t have a lot to put here. All of the stuff I mentioned above could go here, but that would be for the short-attention spanned youth spanning through gen Y who need to be connected twenty four-seven with constant praise that’s spoon fed to them. The pacing is something that might detract people. It’s ultra-slow compared to the havapalava that Michael Bay excretes in the form of “Transformers.” Drive is for those of us who enjoy methodical films that allow for breathing room and interruption.
The story – as previously mentioned there’s nothing new here story-wise. It’s really any other heist/avarice movie… the Driver/Killer/Gangster/Crooked Cop… etc, encounters a female who breaks him out of his solitude and sends him in a downward spiral that is coupled with violence death and a hail of mayhem (usually gunfire). But what’s great about this film, is the way they execute this story. It really reminds me of an anime film, specifically Ghost In The Shell or any of Mamoru Oshii’s films. There’s a lot of silence and pauses coupled by moments of fast paced action and graphic violence.
*SPOILER* Here’s another “bad” well… a pet peeve. There’s a point in the movie, about the midway point, the “descent/point of no return”, where Gosling suddenly becomes a superhero like character, it’s the highly stylized scene in the elevator where he kisses Mulligan. The lighting changes and so does the shutter speed, then high tension action, he stomps a guy’s face in. And it works, because he’s driven to violence. The audience I saw this with laughed, but laughed in a way that indicated they didn’t know how to handle that scene emotionally.
Stop what you’re doing and go see this movie at the nearest theatre, theater, or movie dispensary to you. Do yourself a favor, watch it and enjoy it (as well as all the other films mentioned in this post). If you don’t appreciate this movie, re-think your life. End of line.
[addition] This film certainly holds a definite sense of attention to detail in the creation that might be over the head of some/most people. The film draws from older films, much like early Tarantino, where young movie-goers that didn’t like Drive don’t have an extensive film literacy (or literacy in general), so they felt left outside on an inside joke, and couldn’t see the references that Drive was making. They wanted to be told what movies, now now now, they wanted it spoon fed, like current Tarantino.