Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Opens locally Friday, September 16th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Bronson, Pusher)
The word “drive” can mean a few different things. In the new movie “Drive,” I think it’s to mean the kind of driving involving a car, and in that definition of the word, it is aptly named. The other definition of “drive” could mean ambition, or will-power. If “Drive” had a little bit more of the latter, and less of the former, it’d be headed in the right direction. At least know where you’re travelling to, right?
Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stuntman who’s night job is as a wheelman…basically a for-hire driver for thugs and lowlifes looking for a robbery and a clean getaway. When a heist he’s been hired on goes awry, he gets caught up with a local mob, who puts a contract out on him. In the middle is Carey Mulligan, the sweet and innocent gal who shares the next-door apartment to Gosling, whom he feels the need to protect.
Albert Brooks sinks his hooks into the juicy role of one of the mob bosses, and he steals most every scene. Ron Perlman plays an Italian mob boss with even more over-the-top stereotypical Italian tendencies than Silvio on The Sopranos, a character played by non-actor Little Stevie Van Zandt. Bryan Cranston is in a minor role as a friend and mentor to Gosling, and Carey Mulligan is a delight, as always, and has more charm than most actresses working today.
Crazily, it is the brilliant Ryan Gosling who crashes the movie head-on into a brick wall. He is cold, and without feeling in the opening scene, which suits the heist scene well...he is a criminal after all. It becomes odd then, when we see his emotionless face throughout the rest of the film, no matter what he’s doing, or what the situation is. It’s clear Gosling is talented, and it’s clear that he is playing this character in this way…it just doesn’t work at all. Asking us to put an emotionless character at the emotional center of a film saps the story of all feeling.
Late in the movie, Gosling puts on a mask. I found it ironic that the mask showed just as much emotion as he did up to that point.
Even still, I wanted to like “Drive,” as it should have been highly stylized noir. It has a throw-back style reminiscent of early 80’s crime dramas, complete with a horribly cheesy musical score. The world it creates reminded me of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, with a splash of Miami Vice thrown in. I was onboard with it, despite Gosling’s crash-test-dummy of a performance until the very end. But the ending of the film was so….off….that it sucked what little hopes I had right out of me. It would be like taking an awesome joy ride in a fancy car, only to find out later that it doesn't have any brakes.
“Drive” is worth seeing I guess, and not just for fans of car chases and such…this film is not to be compared with movies like “The Fast and the Furious.” It’s more of a crime noir film, but just not a complete one. The ride just wasn’t worth the final destination.
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