Short review: I like it, it’s very good, VERY violent and gory. Don’t see it if you’re squeamish.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, who also directed Valhalla Rising (which, I am told, is also very violent), Drive has a very bazaar combination and balance of innocence, beauty and purity, and brutal, gory violence.
Ryan Gosling plays “Driver”, who has basically three jobs. 1: a part time stunt driver for movies, 2: a mechanic working at a shop for his father figure played by Bryan Cranston (that nice dad from Malcolm in the Middle turned meth dealer with cancer in “Breaking Bad”), and 3: get away driver for robberies, and he’s REALLY good at it.
In the first twenty minutes there is absolutely no violence. Driver moves into a new apartment and notices a sweet, attractive young mother taking care of her son and after running into her at the grocery store, he offers to help her bring them in. The scenes showing their mutual attraction to each other are sweet and beautiful, with long silent shots with subtle smiles and knowing looks. They continue to develop a strong friendship and attraction as he plays with her son and puts him to bed and takes them for drives. All this is very touching and sweet.
Then she informs Driver that her husband and the father of her child is about to get out of jail. Driver is a bit bummed, but deals with it. The father comes home (seems like a nice guy), has a party, feels bad for what he did (we never learn what that is) and wants to make a second go at life. Problem is, the “bad guys” don’t want him to do that. They beat him up for refusing not to do a job, and say that they will hurt his wife and kid if he doesn’t.
Driver cares for the family and explains to the husband of the woman he has the hots for that he is a getaway driver and really good at it. He offers to help him with the job to make sure his wife and kid are safe. (what a nice guy).
Obviously, everything does not go well and from then on it is an intense fight for survival, payback and protection with blood, guns and a bit of brain matter (not kidding).
The balance of intense violence and extreme tenderness portrayed by Gosling is done so well that I really want to see it again. For what it is, this movie is perfect, though, I do say they went overboard with the gore in a few scenes, especially the elevator scene.
Can I recommend this movie in good conscience? Sure, but don’t be fooled, this isn’t a nice, family movie. DO NOT watch this with your kids... or squeamish wife.
The French Connection - 1971
The original car chase movie. Not the first, but definitely the standard. This movie has influenced excellent movies involving car chases including Batman Begins ...
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