Drive is one of the most creative, designed flicks crafted in recent years; it steps on the gas and lets the engine roar as loud as possible from start to finish. If there is a film released in the following months of 2011 any better, it'd be quite the shock. Starting off with an opening getaway scene that will mark the most intense driving scene in cinema, those first few minutes should be enough to tell you that you are in for one hell of a ride. Say goodbye to the Fast and the Furious series because Drive hit's the throttle more in just 100 minutes. Believe it or not, but Drive is an instant-classic that'll be remembered next to Steve McQueen's 1968 film, Bullitt. It's just that good.
Ryan Gosling is an actor who never got my appreciation until his performance in Blue Valentine and his comedic work in Crazy, Stupid, Love. In those two films, both released in the last year, he's showed me that not only can he give a series, dramatic performance but he can also deliver the goods in comedy too. In Drive, he takes on a whole new formula that I wasn't one-hundred percent sure he could handle: an action star. Drive is far from being an over-the-top, stupid action-flick but Gosling still does his share in violence here and he does it perfectly. Not being the biggest fan of his work in The Notebook in 2004, in the years since he's stepped up his game a lot and Drive only shows the beginning of his Oscar-worthy performances to come.
Gosling's character doesn't have a name and it really only makes his character more mysterious and intriguing. The reason I loved Fight Club so much is because the main-character, played by Ed Norton, was known in the film as The Narrator. In Drive, the audience simply knows the main character as Driver. Goes with the title quite well, doesn't it? Under the circ*mstances of how stiff and serious Driver is in the film, even if the character did have a name we'd still all be curious about who the character actually is. The film does a great job developing the character and keeping all his intentions secretive, especially with whatever happened in his past, but if it wasn't for the brilliant performance by Gosling I honestly don't think the character would've been brought to the screen the way he was. Some of the stiffness in Gosling's face during some scenes is incredible and sometimes gave me the shakes. The character, due to Gosling's performance, is unpredictable with every line and action, and for that Gosling deserves himself an Oscar.
Drive isn't a dialogue filled script, but instead scenes are filled with silence that really sets the mood for every scene. The silence in the film works as perfectly as it did in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, where scenes without background music are a lot tenser and much colder. Conversations between characters might be awkward at times, but these conversations feel very realistic. There are no cliché/cheesy lines that bring the script down; instead, the dialogue is simple and awkward, just as conversations would be in reality. In the scenes where music does play in the background, however, it is used not so frequently and the soundtrack is original. The film doesn't feature tunes you'd normally here in a film like this, but the difference in sound is what makes Drive such an original piece.
Nicolas Winding Refn thinks very far outside the box with Drive, using a lot of imaginative techniques not used too often. Taking the camera behind the wheel and giving the audience a feel of what driving in the car with Driver is like is one in particular that I loved. The film uses this technique in at least eight different scenes, where we see Driver's point of view in the vehicle and in the process are giving excellent night shots of Los Angeles.
Another technique Refn's uses to give Drive a sensational look is great lighting. The lighting on the film is remarkable and in every scene it is at the highest point of perfection. The shining lights of beautiful Los Angeles moonlighting off Driver's windshield among plenty of other scenes look dazzling due to the lighting of the film. For Nicolas Winding Refn's achievement in great technique and cinematography, he deserves himself an Oscar-nomination because Drive is one of the best films I've had the pleasure of looking at in a long time.
There are a lot of scenes to look forward to before seeing Drive from what the trailer peaks us at. The elevator scene, in particular, lives up to the much anticipated excitement it developed. The scene is shot beautifully and the soundtrack used in it is absolutely remarkable and best of all---original. Not only was this one (keyword: one) of the most intense scenes in the entire film, it definitely received a charged reaction from the audience in my theater.
Drive is bloody brutal. Be sure to keep that in mind while watching it. The action sequences in the film are crafted visually on point. To keep everything a secret, let's just put it simply; the element of surprise used in Drive is done incredibly well. When I say that you never know what's going to happen in every scene, I'm serious, you never know. The silence technique used in just about every scene make the film one-hundred percent unpredictable and that works to an excellent extent.
The other performances delivered in the film are performed quite well. Drive provides an irresistible cast of Carrey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go), Albert Brooks, and Ron Perlman. Carrey Mulligan is as great as she always is and even though her character here is hard to understand while watching the film at times, her performance is electric and above all fantastic. Albert Brooks is excellent here as well, where I'm happy to see him back in the game giving high-five performances. As for Ron Perlman, he isn't my favorite actor in the books but he does show a lot of quality here. One line in particular from him I thought was a little silly especially hearing out of his voice, but other than that, Perlman surprised me here where I thought he'd be this film's biggest dent in the hood.
One of my favorite aspects of the film is a scene where Driver asks a character "Ever hear the story of the Scorpion and the Frog?" and then the topic is changed. As the audience, we're supposed to understand what this story is and I was glad to have known the story of the Scorpion and the Frog before seeing this film. The story has a lot of meaning to the film even though during the movie you'd think it had absolutely no connections. The story of the Scorpion and the Frog:
The Scorpion and the Frog is a fable about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature. Thus meaning that he is a reactionary person/character. He does without thinking (or minimally), or instinctually. And that he was going to do what he was going to do either way.
This had huge meaning to the film and if you understood the story of the Scorpion and the Frog, you'd see the scorpion on the back of Driver's jacket symbolizes a lot. Once I understood the meaning behind the scorpion on his jacket due to this story, I was blown away with brilliance.
In the end, Drive is an excellent film; nothing more, nothing less. The film has many different aspects and techniques used that help craft the film as not only the most original piece of the year, but in years. Driven with incredible performances and powered with intensity, Drive is the film of the year not to be missed on the big-screen. It's a must-see!
Thanks for the read!
-Written by Corey Wood