“Drive” is not your run-of-the-mill action flick. In fact, I’m not so sure calling it an action flick is appropriate; between its cold protagonist and stark setting, it’s more like a modern noir.
In Nicolas Winding Refn’s film, Ryan Gosling plays an unnamed Hollywood stunt driver who takes on jobs as a wheelman on the side. He drives those who hire him to the scene of the heist, waits in the car until they return, and drives them away; he gets no more involved than that. When he moves into a new apartment, he meets Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother living alone with her son Benicio (Kaden Leos) while her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) serves time in prison. The driver begins spending more and more time with the pair, and when Standard encounters some trouble with a guy named Cook (James Biberi), who he owes from before he went to prison, he feels compelled to help him. The driver and Standard make a deal with Cook to perform one heist to get him his money, but when the heist goes horribly wrong, the driver sets out to find out who was behind it, trying all the time to protect Irene and her son.
“Drive” is an extremely simple film. The story is relatively straightforward, and there is little dialogue, particularly from the driver, who barely speaks throughout the entire film. While its simplicity may lead you to question the motives of some of the characters later on, this is a thriller of the highest quality, proving that it is possible to make an incredibly violent and suspenseful film without throwing explosions at the viewer every five seconds. In fact, much of the film is rather slow, favoring intimate scenes between characters, but as a result, when those fast-paced moments do arrive (particularly after the driver goes on the hunt) they are all the more heart-pounding and shockingly gory.
Gosling and Mulligan are two of the best young actors working in Hollywood today, and while their characters don’t say much, they are still so expressive that every emotion, particularly the romantic tension between them, is made clear, even tangible. In the driver, Gosling embodies an action hero similar to that of Clint Eastwood’s The Man With No Name. He may not be the most approachable man or possess the most admirable moral code, but he has a clear sense of what, in his mind at least, is right and wrong, and is willing do just about anything to defend what he believes in.
Had “Drive” been helmed with anyone else it could have turned out a failure. As it is, it is a movie whose raw emotions and violence take an otherwise average story and set of characters and makes them exciting.
Runtime: 100 minutes. Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity.
Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:
- Wehrenberg Theatres
- AMC Theatres
- Regal Movie Theatres
- Galleria 6
- Chase Park Plaza
- Granite City
- Moolah Theatre
- Hi-Pointe Theatre
- St. Andrews Cinema
- Plaza Frontenac Cinema
- Tivoli Theatre
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