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4.0 out of 5 stars
Drive [DVD]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2015
Real score: 5 stars
Adjusted for Amazon reviewers getting it wrong: Many got it wrong but I can't score it any higher, so 5 stars.

I watched this film a second time recently. On this viewing I was almost sober and so I have a much better idea of what I loved about the film so much the first time round.

Firstly, I actually have a criticism from this viewing. The relationship between Irene and the Driver seems stilted, and frankly quite vapid. I found myself on the very edge of beginning to switch off in the period between Irene and her child being driven home from the mechanic's to their home and the little detour that entails up until the point where Standard returns. The chemistry seemed too clinical and distant, consisting mostly of some longing looks and sheepish grins with trendy (admittedly great but still trendy) music playing in the background.

I think that is the worst criticism I can muster, and I've almost certainly exaggerated its effect by isolating it. Other than this very specific fault I think the movie may be flawless. It's like an updated Blade Runner; neo-noir, tinged with the flashy neon-soaked glamour of the eighties and dystopian futurism (neon-noir, if you like). Like the second Godfather movie it portrays crime as something that doesn't pay, something that is dirty and soul-destroying, but which clearly once had its glory day. In many ways it is also a film about movies; the excitement and wonder of car-chases which are played out on screen and in reality by the Driver, but also the exploitative and seedy side, the money men behind the films of the eighties who saw it as another way of making money, along with drugs and violence. The Driver himself is both a heroic action figure and a jaded mentally disturbed criminal who has grown up in a country where the huge back catalogue of fifties noir and seventies and eighties action movies are embedded in the national psyche. We're not talking about Taxi Driver, where Travis Bickle, driving around the rain slicked streets of New York, sees himself as some avenging angel. We're talking about someone who is a real life hero who is designed for his environment, but who struggles to stay ahead, right up until the ambiguous ending, and who has to resort to some of the methods and extremities of his opposition to survive. He really lives what Travis Bickle wants to live, but in a brilliantly post-modern way this is no longer acceptable in "mainstream" society, as can be seen by Irene's reaction after the scene in the lift. It's as if the Driver is aware of both the fictional world he lives in while simultaneously being aware of the real world; like if, in Commando, Schwarzenegger suddenly took stock of the body-count and had a mental breakdown.

Asides from the philosophical fallout of the film, the style involved in bringing it to the screen is unbelievably slick and cool: the opening scene is even more brilliant than I first thought, even excepting the soundtrack; the beach scene is unbelievable; the build up of tension in the pawn shop heist; the massive contrast in every violent act that takes place in the film, between sensuality/beauty/calm and sudden and explosive violence. It is a film where we feel every violent experience, as does the Driver, as he begins wandering the streets in an increasingly bloodied silver jacket. In a atmosphere where we are increasingly told we are becoming desensitised, there is a gut response to every violent act here.

Lastly, in terms of the neo-noir elements, its nice to see a film as convoluted and complex as some of the noirs of old. Along with the Driver himself we often have very little idea what is going on, who is behind various actions and what their motivation is. This is never more obvious than in the aftermath of the pawn shop heist. Having seen the film twice I'm still not entirely sure about what happened.

Of course this review is in danger of become as rambling as I was trying to avoid. Suffice to say, Drive now has a firm place in my top ten or fifteen favourite films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2013
Ryan Gosling's taciturn wheel-man is already something of an iconic character, and it's easy to see why many regard the latest `man with no name' as a symbol for our times - in essence a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western drifter for the Twenty-first century.
The movie, a self-styled homage to films of the 1980s, is a sparse neon bullet; with a pulsating synth soundtrack, and scrawled credits and title in shocking pink lettering, it instantly conjures up the opening of movies such as 1986 comedy horror `Vamp', Eddie Murphy vehicle `Beverly Hills Cop', and Rutger Hauer's signature picture `The Hitcher' - in terms of superficial style at least. With nods to directors including Tarantino, John Hughes, and Ridley Scott, Nicholas Refn has created a tough but slick masterpiece; Gosling superb as outwardly serene but inwardly conflicted mechanic cum criminal, and co-star Carey Mulligan convincing as the wife of a convicted armed robber and mother of a boy in need of male role models; Mulligan unglamorously cast against type, produces a sensitive and restrained performance from the off.
To be fair, the first half of the film is spellbinding, but it descends into ultra-violence just after the midway mark; this doesn't prevent the film's quality being sustained, but it does feel a little unimaginative after the intelligent and restrained opening 45 minutes.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2011
Ryan Gosling plays a stunt driver who supplements his income by driving getaways. The extended opening sequence is a brilliantly tense depiction of what this entails and why he has the reputation for being so good at it.

However, just as it appears that he might be getting a break to the (legitimate) big time, with an opportunity to drive racing cars for a new team being set up by his boss, Bryan Cranston, and funded by two shady businessmen, played with sublime menace by Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, Gosling's character falls in love with his neighbour, Carey Mulligan, a young mother with a husband in prison. When the husband is released it transpires that he owes a lot of money to unnamed mobsters and is required to pull a robbery to pay this off. Hence Gosling agrees to do the proverbial "one last job" to help the family.

Of course all double-crossing hell breaks loose.

This movie pulls together a number of "retro" elements - much of the lighting, styling and soundtrack in the movie are reminicent of the Miami Vice tv series, the plot is straight from 1940's film noir, Gosling's unnamed man of few words refers to Clint Eastwood's signature Sergio Leone roles - to make something quite original - with startlingly graphic violence.

It is true that much of this is actually off-screen but the sound of breaking bones and collapsing faces is distressing enough. This verges on the gratuitious, but, I think, remains just on the right side of the line as it is used by the director to build tension by putting into the mind of the viewers what will become of the protagonist and those he loves should they fall prey to the mobsters who have set much of the plot in motion.

That these characters matter to the viewer is a particular achievement of the film, which spends a leisurely time building the love-story element before unleasing the dogs of mob-war on the characters. At its surprisingly romantic heart the "drive" of the title perhaps refers less to the job the protagonist does and more what motivates - "drives" - him, that is love, to endure the dangers and horrors he encounters in the course of the movie.

In summary then a very fine, on occassion unbearably tense and original thriller, but viewers will require a strong stomach, and perhaps ear plugs, during some of the scenes of violence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2015
The only reason I stayed to the end (I was reading a book whilst the film was playing) was to see who sang the music tracks during the film, they were the only thing of remote interest. The characters were of no interest whatsoever nor was the plot. I think the mood the film was aiming for was atmospheric or moody, it failed miserably. If you have been putting something off for a while; tooth out, ingrowing toenail removed, lobotomy, I would suggest doing so rather than watching this film, it is an hour and a half of my life I will not get back.
Its not worth the 1 star.
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on 9 April 2012
I saw this in the cinema and have bought it on DVD. It's like sb old clint Eastwood spagetti western but instead of a gunslinger you've got a driver. It's the classic story of the lone hero who spends most of the film confounding our notions of good and evil, but who ends the film with one, 'Christ-like' heroic / compassionate act.
There is also the unsuspecting femme fatale who ultimately leads to the 'heros' undoing.

So the film is similar to the likes of, youve guessed it, Heat, The American & Le Samourai, and seems to consciously riff from those films. Our hero is a driver of superhuman ability 'there's nothing he can't do with a car, superlative, just like the gunsmith and master thief in 'The American' and 'Heat' respectively. There is an air of cool about the film and a circumspection about the hero that very strongly echoes Le Samourai. There is a point in the film where 'our hero' (who very spaghetti western like, remains nameless) is working on a piece of a car on his apartment table, just like George Clooney building his gun in his Apartment in 'The American'. The apartment is bare, just like De Niro's house in 'Heat' and just like in 'Heat' he is ultimately undone by a love interest, the one ray of light in his cool but unhappy life, the unhappiness being a consequence of the conflict between the supposed 'good nature' of the hero (a nature which the love interest sees and reflects back to the hero) and the life of violence and crime, the immoral life, within which he is trapped.

Ultimately this film seems to consciously play on the fact that all these other similar films have already gone before it, it's very knowing, a bit like Vince Vaughn in a comedy, and just like him, doesn't seem to be 'trying' too hard (with dialogue, storyline etc), and you'll either live this about the film or hate this (because you'll either think it's cool or lazy.

Another way to look at it, is to consider that this is a very visual film and has a visual vividity and purity. This I think explains the extreme violence. It's a film from which lots of cool still images could be pulled.

Its been said that it's based on a Grimm fairytale but it actually reminds me of a manga anime.

There is very little driving in the film but what driving there is is pretty damn delicious, just like the gun action in 'The American' or the seminal heist scenes in 'Heat' and just like this films it has an engaging leading man holding it all together.
Wasn't cinema made for this type of film, this type of role?

Definitley don't avoid, but look away at the right time if your squeamish (like I am)
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The selling point of Drive is Ryan Gosling. After that I think the music gets an honourable mention. Together they are the pulse of this crime thriller - setting the pace at a slow but steady beat then ramping up the tempo at exactly the right moment. Much like when a DJ drops a good beat, everything just lifts for a moment then it all drops into place. Zinnnnnnn

Gosling is a stunt driver and wheelman, and mechanic. Oh, and pretty sure he's into racing too. That's where I congratulate this film for keeping things simple - you can't keep the mystique of a character intact if you know everything about them, all you need to know is he's a devil behind the wheel and behind the icy gaze and James Dean demeanor lies one hell of a sting in the tail (I'm talking about the scorpion on the back of his quilted bomber jacket as well as his violent streak).

It's difficult to say how Gosling can be on the screen for 2hr or whatever with the same facial expression and not break the illusion of realism. I suppose he is channeling a particular type of character that doesn't need to behave like a normal human being, or by his very ability to react in a detached deadpan way takes on a mythical quality. Perhaps that's what everyone is so hyped about, someone who can actually envoke the heroic archetype as well as McQueen, Bronson, Eastwood?. Now all he needs is a few grey hairs and a few wrinkles then we can really take him seriously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2013
It's a slow film which still managed to get me on the edge of my seat, not many slow films have that effect. Great acting by Ryan Gosling he has some amazing screen presence which helped me get sucked into the storyline.
As i was watching the first scene with Gosling driving for the 2 lads doing a robbery, i automatically compared the film to The Transporter. After that scene it took a different turn and slipped into something quite original that i don't think i've ever seen before.
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on 22 April 2012
Drive might be the ultimate exercise in cinematic style over substance.

Thematically the plot synopsis could've been written on a piece of single A4, it's a very straightforward crime/revenge thriller in a similar vein to To Live And Die In LA, Resevoir Dogs or Before The Devil Knows You're Dead. The performances are competent if not engaging but it's the crisp attention to detail and production which elevate this film over the limitations of its script. Conceptually the setting is contemporary, the tone is 70's exploitation B-movie but the presentation, where the enjoyment is to be found, is pure 80's gloss.

The music in the film is perhaps the paramount ingredient, enhancing both the mood and feel of the piece. The glorious Synth Pop soundtrack and what amounts to the occasional Pop Promo segue interlude during the driving sequences Drive reminds the viewer of the approaches favoured by the kings of 80's sheen, Michael Mann and Tony Scott.

Despite the violence, which in places seems unnecessary and the fact that Christina Hendricks (from Mad Men) is woefully under used in a thin cameo, Drive is a visual treat, a slick, superficial and essential addition to the noir catalogue.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2015
This one is a real gem. Plot develops in zig-zags, people we think we know we don't know. Ryan Gosling's character is never given a name, we know nothing of his past. In many films that's a big flaw, in this one the mystery it gives the character is crucial. We have no reference points to prepare us for what he is likely to do or not do. Things we expect to happen don't happen. My favourite Ryan Gosling performance, and highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2014
One of my favourite movies of the last few years.Has everything in that i love in a movie .Firstly Los Angeles , i dont know what it is about the city but its my favourite USA city especially when its used for a movie.Live and die in LA,Point break and Colleteral.Secondly the music fits perfectly so much i downloaded a few songs from the movie.
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