19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Violently intelligent... intelligently violent...,
This review is from: Drive [DVD] (DVD)Great film? Shallow, derivative genre piece? At times, watching 'Drive', it's really hard to say. I've watched it twice now, once on a tiny seat-back screen on BA, again at home on widescreen. Both times I found it utterly engrossing, despite manifold flaws - or questionable decisions at least - in tone, casting and plot. Second time around, I wondered if Ryan Gosling was the weak link - the absence of dialogue (as action heroes go, he's very much the strong silent type) is fine, but that half-smirk starts to grate after a while, making him seem more of a puppet than I'm sure was intended. Carey Mulligan is becoming a great screen presence, and plays the part well, but is she right for the role? Why is she so sweet, so emotionally neutral, in the midst of all this? I'm not sure that I believe her. Then the episodes of ultraviolence... not entirely gratuitous, but maybe just a little too much, tipping over into gore-porn?
The scene in the elevator is truly ghastly, and brings these concerns together. Do we have to see that? And would Gosling's character really behave that way? Yet it's a critical scene in the movie too... his sweaty, guilty pallor as he turns away to look at Mulligan's terrified, horrified face brings out something in his character that's only been alluded to previously - that he's a man with a past about which we know little, but which probably ain't pretty. Those nerveless driving skills didn't come from nowhere, and, married to the bum job and the cheap apartment, the lonely, friendless existence, it all seems to suggest witness protection, or at least a powerful need to maintain a low profile. Masks figure at both ends of the film - this is a man who is Not All He Seems.
So more than a violently intelligent, hard-boiled B-movie of the old school? It certainly resonates more than that description would suggest - it's fascinating for the sheer number of influences that get wrapped up into what is at heart a pretty straightforward heist-gone-wrong movie. At random, I was thinking about Eastwood, Bogart, Tarantino of course, Walter Hill, Taxi Driver... in fact, you can go a lot further back than that and see Gosling's character in the ancient tradition of the knight in shining armour (the silver jacket and car) defending the fair lady (their relationship is certainly chaste and courtly enough). It's a cineaste's movie, for sure, but it's not sterile in the way such movies often are - more, it's a fan's movie, and reminded me of nothing so much as Reservoir Dogs [DVD]- the low budget, the visceral, bloody impact, the existential absence of any real context, the sense of visual style... If you liked Reservoir Dogs, but have reservations about everything else Tarantino has done since, this may well be the movie for you.
So 4 stars - not so much for greatness (I'm still not sure) but for being a) not boring b) always challenging c) a relentlessly involving watch.