“Drive” (2011) Review
Far too often are action movies focused solely on achieving the biggest explosions, unbelievable car chases, and one-against-the-world type heroes. These films lack the desire to have a plot any more complicated than the villain doing some kind of villainous deed to warrant the hero’s need to see him apprehended. “Drive” takes a different approach to the genre. Here, we have an unlikely hero who, in trying to help out a neighbor, becomes involved in a deadly situation.
One thing becomes obvious as you begin to experience “Drive” – there is minimal dialogue throughout the film. The conversations that do occur are beautifully written, and at times the silence is perfectly suited, but the film does begin to feel barren at times without more interaction. This has a direct influence on the plot of the film.
The plot itself is smartly constructed and wonderfully paced. Ryan Gosling plays a stuntman who also works as a mechanic and a getaway car driver. As he begins to get involved with his neighbor and boss, in trying to get away from his dirtier business, he becomes embroiled in a complicated mob scheme. It is nice to see a (somewhat) ordinary person become the hero through a series of events involving people he just wants to help. The film has some nice twists throughout and is always in constant motion. Even with the minimal dialogue, the relationships between characters are nicely developed and have you invested in their fates. Yet, I still feel that with some more dialogue, some scenes and relationships could have been even better. The movie still succeeds with this approach due to the wonderful work by its cast. Gosling and Mulligan complement each other well, and the villains, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, suit their roles perfectly.
As far as the cinematography goes, there is some great camera work that really accentuates the slick car chase sequences. Even when the action stops, the camera manages to add a nice layer of style to the film. One thing it also captures as well is the brutal violence in various scenes. There are some intense moments and Refn never shies away from showing every grisly detail.
Lastly, one other thing that detracts from parts of the film (like the dialogue) is the soundtrack. At certain points, the soundtrack is wonderful, varying from pulsing synths to laid-back clean tracks. Yet, some scenes have odd choices for sound, and in a film staying low on the dialogue, a more prominent and fitting soundtrack is needed to help give each scene some more weight.
Among the generic action and crime dramas being released, “Drive” stands out with its intelligent writing and plot. Though there some missteps with the dialogue and soundtrack, the film strays from the norm and successfully creates a refreshing crime drama that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.
Final Score: 8/10