365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Drive (2011)

Original review - September 18, 2011 | Updated review August 12, 2013

Updated review****

This movie is a classic. I had a couple of original problems based on my initial view. The preview made it seem like it was going to be a completely different movie. I wasn't prepared for the violence or the all of the overlapping story lines that were going on. I thought I was going to watch Ryan Gosling drive bad guys around and avoid the police. The trailer for the movie is essentially the first five minutes of the movie (nothing more, nothing less). I expected something different which is why my initial review was lower than it is now.

I loved Gosling and Mulligan. I loved the way the unspoken attraction they had for one another. I loved how Gosling did everything he could to not get attached to somebody he couldn't just walk away from in five minutes, but how circumstances kept driving them together to the point where he would do anything to keep them happy and safe.

There were parts of the story line that I couldn't quite piece together on my initial watch. I won't reveal them here because they are spoilers, but it is basically the part of the movie where everything goes wrong. Rather than try to enjoy the last 30 minutes of the movie, I wanted to figure out what just happened and why, but I couldn't and that was frustrating for me. I liked Cranston even more this go around. I wasn't as big of a fan of Brooks or Perlman still, but they served their purpose effectively in the movie. I continued to love the sound.

But it's really the development of Gosling's character that gripped me (especially since I've seen him in a bunch of movies since). This character is one of the top five I've seen him play.

Plot 9/10 (now that I understand it better)
Character Development 8.5/10
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 10/10
Screenplay 8.5/10
Directing  8/10
Cinematography 9/10
Sound 10/10
Hook and Reel 10/10 (first scene is incredible)
Universal Relevance 7.5/10

Original review****

Ryan Gosling's (Blue Valentine, Crazy, Stupid, Love.) second of three big time movies in 2011 Drive isn't a particularly bad movie, but it isn't a particularly good movie either. Of all of the movies that came out in the first eight months of 2011, this was clearly my most anticipated one. I'm very excited about the movies that will be released during awards season, but the movies released between January and September have been, at best, average. When I first saw the preview for Drive, I thought it looked very cool. And because it starred Ryan Gosling, it was a given that I would see it in the theater. Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher, Fear X) appears to have a cast of stars and a good story to work with, but he is in way over his head. This movie steers into way too many directions.

Gosling stars as The Driver. He has no other real name other than Kid as he's called by his boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston - television's Breaking Bad and televisions Malcolm in the Middle). He's a mechanic. He's a stunt driver. He has dreams to be a stock car racer. Those are his part-time jobs known to everybody. What nobody knows is that he also is a driver for hire, meaning for the right price he can be the guy who drives armed robbers to safety after pulling off a heist. The Driver is a loner. He is friendly, but has no friends. He has no real history and no real friends.He keeps to himself whenever he can. He helps pull off these heists at night and is back at work the next day as if nothing happened. If people are injured or killed during these armed robberies, he remains unfazed. The Driver is not an evil man. One of his rules, in fact, is that he won't carry a gun and doesn't want to know the particulars of the crime. His job is to get the men away.

His loner ways change, however, when he becomes friends with his apartment neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan - An Education, Never Let Me Go) and her young son Benecio. Over a short period of time, the two adults become friends while the Driver takes a liking towards the young boy. It is these two people that cause the Driver to develop real human emotions, perhaps for the first time in his life. When the two become endangered, the Driver slowly relies less on his mind to make decisions and more on his heart. The problem is that Refn wants us to believe that a 30 year old man can change the way he operates and carries himself overnight because it makes his story more exciting.

The film did a few things very well. For all of its holes and all of its coincidences that were so frequent that they became to convenient for the storytelling, it actually did a great job of how it filmed Gosling. There were dozens of times when the film just panned in on him. We constantly knew that Gosling's mind was in motion. We didn't know exactly what he was thinking, but we knew he was always thinking. His mind was always in motion. He was aware of his surroundings. He knew there were decisions to be made. But he always looked cool, calm, and calculated while he was making these decisions. This was almost masterful like at times.  However, in the long end, when I reflected on this component, I can't help but think that Gosling's character change was so drastic that it was too difficult to believe this calculating man would make so many decisions at the end of the movie that were based on pure emotion.

The second thing that the movie did very well was the music. I would venture to say that there was background music throughout 50% or more of this movie. It was very subtle and it made the moments of silence stand out that much more. The music didn't seem to always flow with the movie, but I believe Refn did that intentionally. I'm not sure I would have noticed it if I hadn't paid attention to it early. Once I started paying attention to it, I noticed it that much more. Again, I thought it was effective because it contrasted the moments of silence nicely. The acting in this movie was also fantastic. Gosling did not disappoint while Mulligan and Cranston were equally as good.

All in all, I was disappointed. I wanted so much more out of this movie. It went in too many different directions though and as realistic as it was in the beginning, it became something completed different and unbelievable in the end.

Plot 7/10
Character Development 7/10
Character Chemistry 8.5/10
Acting 10/10
Screenplay 8/10
Directing  5/10
Cinematography 9/10
Sound 10/10
Hook and Reel 10/10 (first scene is incredible)
Universal Relevance 6.5/10


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