Summary: Drive is violent, gruesome, and moody. The movie slowly builds fantastic tension throughout, and displays a wide range of emotion wonderfully. It offers a much slower paced action movie compared to the non-stop thrill rides that we’ve become accustom to. Due to poor dialogue and awkward line delivery the movie lacks the extra oomph. However, with so much emotional subtext, an amazing soundtrack, and well-scripted suspense, Drive still manages to be a great movie.
The worst thing to happen me with Drive was the fact that it was so hyped for me. Everyone kept telling me that Drive was an action packed, badass movie. Even the marketing for the movie made me feel the same way, but after watching it I couldn’t help but be disappointed. However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to appreciate the movie for what it was, instead of what others had told me it was. That was a mistake on my part so in order to do the movie justice I let it slip from mind and decided to watch it with a fresh mindset.
The movie has an extremely powerful open that sets the tone for the main character, Driver/Gosling (IMDB credits Ryan Gosling only as Driver). He’s calm and very quiet, only saying what he needs to say. He rarely shows emotions and is straightforward with his clients. A lot of the character we get from Driver comes from his body language, his subtle emotional cues, and just observing him in his surroundings. It makes it hard to have a lead character like this, but when the movie is about emotions and subtext, I can see how they went with this.
As I mentioned earlier, I had people telling me how much of a badass Driver was. It’s funny how after this movie I had to reevaluate my meaning of badass. After so many movies of testosterone pumping, explosion jumping, and one line delivering leads, I had gotten used to the word badass being thrown around to characters like those. Driver is nothing like that. He’s much more reserve, only saying what he needs to say. You can see him trying to get a read on others before committing to any sort of communication. He remains calm in tense situations, but is able to react swiftly without any hesitation. It’s not until after the moment has passed that we are offered any emotional insight into Driver. It’s hard to have a lead like this, especially when it causes his lines to be so awkwardly paced. I’ll touch more on that later. This isn’t to discredit Gosling though. He does a superb job on screen. My complaints are more with the character itself, not Gosling.
It took two viewings of this movie to truly appreciate the slower pace of this movie. It focuses more on building suspense, building tension, instead of just having everything happen so fast on screen. It makes the moments when the tension bursts that much more satisfying. It’s very volatile and can go from silent stand offs to extremely gruesome violence in an instant. It’s enough to be shock worthy, but not over the top where it becomes just a gore fest.
Another direction this movie took that I really enjoyed was that we never see the action taken place when Driver is doing his night job. As he states in the beginning, all he does is drive. We get to see the side of the driver, who doesn’t get to see what’s going on inside. He’s outside, waiting for his clients, watching for police, and unable to tell if things are going right or wrong. It’s definitely a neat perspective and creates fantastic moments of dread and suspension.
Plot wise the movie is pretty straightforward. A story about mobsters and revenge with very little twists, least none that we haven’t seen before. Dialogue aside, I do like the relationship between Driver/Gosling, and Irene/Mulligan. There are a lot of unspoken feelings going on that are leaping off screen. It’s awesome that we are able to see that with little dialogue. It’s a testament to both Gosling and Mulligan’s acting. If anything I would have like to see more time given to the antagonists of the story just so we could get a better feel for who answers to who and other various details.
The movie is very moody, and it conveys each emotion very well on screen. The movie also focuses on this instead of dialogue. To me this is both good and bad. It gives us a lot of subtext to read from but it also leaves a lot on the viewer to fill in the blanks. There’s too much time between dialogue exchange with Driver/Gosling and everyone else, especially with Irene/Mulligan. It doesn’t seem believable to me, it’s more awkward than anything. When Driver does speak it just feels like a first draft of dialogue. I wish there was more meat to it, if not from Driver, then most definitely from the supporting cast to help make up for the character direction they took with the lead. Like I said, I understand that the movie is about reading people, but I feel we still need something more to give us a more entertaining experience.
Drive features one of the best and most memorable soundtracks in recent memory. It has a very 80’s vibe, featuring a lot of synth, mixed with contemporary music as well. It definitely adds to the overall style the movie is going for. It’s a nice direction and gives the movie a lot of personality.
If anything I would say that the mindset of this movie is the biggest factor it has going against it. Largely due in part to the way the movie was advertised. If you go in to this movie expecting non-stop action you’ll be disappointed, but if you can appreciate the movie for the slow pace, tension building movie it is, it’ll be much more enjoyable. The movie relies on the viewer to read the subtext, to read the emotion, and to put yourself in place of the impassive lead. When viewed with this in mind the true achievement of this movie can be seen. It offers a truly refreshing take on action movies that we haven’t seen in a long time. It goes to show that we don’t need everything happening on screen so quickly to create superb tension and action scenes.
Drive is violent, gruesome, and moody. The movie slowly builds fantastic tension throughout, and displays a wide range of emotion wonderfully. Due to poor dialogue and awkward line delivery the movie lacks the extra oomph. However, with so much emotional subtext, an amazing soundtrack, and well-scripted suspense, Drive still manages to be a movie worth watching.
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