Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Drive (2011)

A Steady Idle, Then Full Throttle!

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Hossein Amini, james Sallis
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaacs

SYNOPSIS: Movie set stunt driver and part-time wheelman gets caught up in the lives of his neighbors, resulting in him being the target of a mob heist gone wrong.

REVIEW: Nicolas Winding Refn, director of the Pusher trilogy, Bronson and Valhalla Rising, returns to the screen with his first real American market mainstream movie Drive from a script from Hossein Amini (The Four Feathers) based on the novel by James Sallis. Can Refn make the leap from his acclaimed cinema roots to the mainstream with a film that could be in the same vein as Jason Statham's The Transporter?

Ryan Gosling, fresh off his success with Crazy, Stupid, Love, stars in Drive as the leading but nameless Driver. Part-time movie set stuntman, part-time mechanic, part-time five-minute wheelman for hire, the driver leads a solitary life, only socializing with his mechanic and stuntman boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston) for movie gigs, repair work, and fast cars. Along the way, though, the driver encounters Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos), realizing that they are his next door neighbors in his apartment building. Yearning for a life beyond what he is accustom to, he clumsily reaches out and befriends both mother and son. When Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac - Robin Hood, Sucker Punch) is released from prison with a protection debt hanging over his head which endangers the safety of Irene and Benicio, the Driver steps in as the wheelman for Standard and his impromptu partner Blanche (Christina Hendricks - AMC's Mad Men) to help in a pawn shop robbery. Things soon go wrong with the robbery, leading to more violence and drama.

First, an education about the combustion engine. You turn the engine over and the car comes to life and idles. Press the gas pedal and the engine rumbles (unless its a 3-cylinder) but goes nowhere. Put the car in gear and you can peel rubber and roar down the boulevard, squealing around the corners and racing down the straightaways. Gosling's Driver is similar in nature. Without anything to fuel his life, he sits idling - unsure of what direction he should be heading. Once he has a task, direction or cause, he roars to life with competence and confidence. He doesn't speak much when in social or intimate situations, causing many awkward moments between he and Irene (and for the audience), but Gosling's Driver gets every point across with a thin upturn of the corner of his mouth or shine in his eyes.

The supporting cast is excellent, both sublime and larger than life. Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Mulligan, and Hendricks all play their roles to perfection. Only Perlman's Nino is over the top at all times, but in a good way! Even Kaden Leos' Benicio interacts with the Driver with precision and perfection.

Nicolas Winding Refn brings an art house sensibility to Drive. At times Drive is a nostalgic 80s feel with the Brushscript fonted titles and 80s-era music stylings whose lyrics denote the tone of the story at that moment. At other times Drive is an uber-violent mob flick akin to something that Quentin Tarantino may have put out or endorsed in his youth. The flow of the story idles, then accelerates, then slows down for the next sequence. Stop and go, you may be wondering when something will happen, but when something does happen, it hits you like a sideswipe through an intersection.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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