Drive is kinda like a plot-line from the computer game Grand Theft Auto.
For one, Ryan Gosling (Driver) struts about a lot, in a rather cool Scorpion embossed jacket, whilst seemingly waiting for the director (Nicolas Winding Refn) to press the Triangle button, you know like a kid might on a PlayStation. The triangle button tap forces Driver into action – dragging a citizen out of a car to stomp their head in. Of course, that doesn’t quite happen in Drive, but there is plenty of speeding about. Certainly, the car and drive sequences keep it from being immediately too introspective. They are beautifully filmed, tight, original and about as good as it gets. There’s also a rather catchy theme tune which punctuates throughout the longueurs. The synth tune really fit, the recurring song by College, called A Real Hero.
Then we get to the violence, because there really is some provoked yet OTT head stomping, some really disturbing, gruesome and visceral head stomping at that, which truly wouldn’t be out of place in the aforementioned computer game. You see, Driver, the part-time getaway driver/Hollywood stunt man and mechanic is pretty good at violence. The few scenes of him getting physical are extreme but necessary to gain an interesting insight into the character, and that’s what this film is about. A handsome, overtly-heroic-looking yet troubled man with a clear propensity and gift for violence being touched by simple beauty as he falls in love with the innocence of a mother and child.
For me, it’s in this ambiguity between innocence and experience that Drive moves into fifth gear and avoids being simply pretentious, moody and empty of a point.
Driver: ‘Is he the bad guy?’
Driver: ‘How can you tell?’
Kid: ‘Because he’s a shark.’
Driver: ‘There’s no good sharks?’
Kid: ‘I mean just look at him, does he look like a good guy to you?’
Driver looks lost in thought, dead puzzled eyes staring at the TV and perhaps questioning his own existence – like a shark always moving/awake and driving forward in his Scorpion jacket. The problematic hero who enjoys extreme violence a little too much.
Anyway, in a nutshell, Drive, is sparse on dialogue (a few nice one liners from peripheral actors like Ron Perlman) it’s a stark, slick and ultimately thought-provoking film with a subtlety well worth closer inspection, or perhaps even worthy of you pressing triangle, cross or square on your PlayStation.
Review by Tom Conrad