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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cody's Film Review: Drive

Drive is a fun and stylish film, but I didn't love it like many of my friends and critics have. This is my fault because I would have liked it more with no expectations, but when I hear  "Oscar worthy" or" Best film of the year" I better see something really original and powerful. It reminded me a bit of 80's Michael Mann, but that was mainly because of the films font, music, and Ryan Gosling's character. Gosling is a quintessential Michael Mann antagonist quiet, tough, and quick to action if pushed. I was more reminded of early Tarantino and Indie action films of the mid 90's that always encompassed a great cast, style, and sharp dialogue. I wouldn't put Drive in the same category of greatness as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, but more like True Romance and better than Tarantino rip offs like 2 Days In the Valley. The cast was good, but besides Gosling the only stand out was Albert Brooks. Every scene with Brooks is captivating and I wanted more scenes like the one between him and Gosling at the restaurant. I really enjoyed the look and pace of the film, but I was also just relieved to see an action film without 100 cuts per minute or shaky cam.I will look forward to Nicolas Refn's future projects because he has great sense of pacing and knows how to shoot an action film correctly. I feel a stronger script would help him immensely and he could add substance to his already established style. Overall I enjoyed Drive, but I felt the film was a little too simple and really lacked originality. I think the film comes off as fresh and unconventional because of all the shit Hollywood has been throwing at us the last 15 years, and basically we all long for films of the 80's. 3.5 out of 5 Stars


  1. This is Tim:

    I agree with you that this movie is suffering from the hype, but I don't think thats the film's fault. Expectations are a dangerous for films like this. I think it's a simple action movie made extremely well and all the other stuff that comes along with it is bullshit. I also agree with the fact that a lot of people are blowing their collective loads due to the fact that we have seen nothing but shit from the action genre over the past fifteen years (True Romance included...let's be honest, the cameos of Hopper, Walken, Oldman, and Galdolfini are great, but it's not a great action movie.) I also hate the fact that just because the movie is set in dirty LA and has halfway decent dialogue, then people immediately want to compare it to Tarantino. The guy didn't re-invent the fucking wheel, guys, he just has a great way with making people who talk like dipshits seem realistic and cool. It's like saying Kevin Smith re-invented comedy dialogue. I understand he has done a lot for film, but Tarantino is not the end all, be all of underworld LA movies. I admit, I loved this movie, but it was mainly because it takes a lot to say a lot with a little and to pull off this movie. It's simple, beautifully made, and well acted. That's enough for me. The rest is just hype and, again, that's not really the film's fault.

  2. *spoiler

    Refn has a hard on for Michael Mann flicks for sure, but he got the Driver character all wrong. Mann’s characters aren’t just strong and silent, they’re also self-involved. Same with the Man w/No Name. The allegiance is only to their chosen vocation, and so they steer clear of any kind of emotional attachment since they know it will get them in trouble. If the heat’s coming around the corner, you have to know that you can drop everything etc etc.

    The Driver’s is nowhere near as conflicted. He’s too nice, too sympathetic, too noble for a character in this mold. Even when he’s smashing someone’s face in, his moral compass is steadfast, and all the violence comes from a noble place.

    Refn has said he wanted to explore the sociopath flipside to the ‘hero’ archetype, essentially dig deep and find the Travis Bickle lurking inside the badass. Observe & Report tried for something similar, find the creepy psycho inside a man-child Adam Sandler-like character, and for the most part pulled it off.

    But except for a stray moment or two (when it looks like he might strangle Bryan Cranston), it doesn’t work here, because Gosling never looks as if he’s going to go seriously off the rails. I mean if Refn really wants to mix extreme violence and moral complexity, he needs to watch some Breaking Bad.

    Some plotholes too. Why did he wear the mask if he killed everyone who saw him in it? And the racing plot ended up going nowhere. And Mulligan is a fox, but she should have had more to play than drab earnestness.

    All the same, the casting is great, the aesthetic is spot on, the pacing is killer. And the fucking font. But its just doesn’t add up to anything b/c the story is so weak. Also, still can’t past the fact that Coco even halfway liked a movie by someone who was mentored by Lars Von Trier.