Movie Review: ‘Drive’ 2011 Starring Ryan Gosling

by on September 18, 2011

in Entertainment, movie reviews

This is a movie review of Drive (2011). You may see the movie referenced with 2011 tacked on to the end of the title because there are a few movies with the same name out there from different years.

First up is a bit of a warning: Drive‘s movie trailers misleading. I came into this movie expecting it to be a car chase/action movie. It Is Not.

This is a movie that won best director at the Cannes Film Festival. Film festivals are not magnets for action flicks! They’re artsy, dramatic magnets. With that said, a part of me was disappointed. But I quickly adapted and followed it any way because the story is artfully crafted by director Refn around a stoic portrayal by Ryan Gosling. Like the movie Hanna, I was ticked I was misled by the movie trailers. But marketing is marketing. Don’t get me wrong, if you like well crafted dramas, you too will think Drive was good. Just not action oriented good.

DRIVE Movie Poster

Drive is distributed by FilmDistrict studios and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Bronson) and stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman.

It opens (mild outline spoilers) with our driver (Gosling) giving directions over the phone to a client, telling him they have five minutes of his time. Not a second more. For those five minutes, he is theirs and he will go to bat for them. But when that five minutes is up, they’re on their own.

Ryan Gosling in DRIVE

We then get on with a great chase scene of a sorts that demonstrates the incredibly infallible coolness that the driver has as he plans, plots and evades the police chase in downtown Los Angeles.

After that, we pretty much follow his day-to-day routine, learning what he does for his day jobs and his meeting Irene (Mulligan). But as he gets attached to Irene and her cute son, it turns out she has a husband who has been in jail and is just getting out.

Carey Mulligan in DRIVE

Our driver plays the good neighbor and plays it cool, but Irene’s husband’s past haunts them and our driver steps up to help him, because he’s helping Irene and her son.

It’s from there that the Drive story develops.

Ryan Gosling is the driver, a solitary man whose conversational skills involve staring back at someone for at least, what feels like a minute before saying anything. It takes a wee bit of getting used to but it’s an effective technique for drawing in the movie-goer.

But far from being frustrating, the short and frequent gaps of silence builds the anticipation of the answer, and if done well, sucks you farther into the story than the moment before.

That’s one way the tone of the film is set.

For the most part, the movie has a rather quiet ambiance to it set by the gaps of silence between characters and a subtle soundtrack that sets the tension bar even farther. It’s very effective and sets you up for experiencing the reverberation of gunshots that take place in the film.

There is violence and some of it is incredibly personal and though no punches are pulled in demonstrating what’s happening, but it isn’t shown to the degree of the gory nitty gritty.

It is a great movie and though it’s only 1 hour and 40 minutes long, in a good way, it feels like much longer.

Movie Review Dramatic Score 08Drive ends on an ambiguous note, left to the movie-goer’s own interpretation as to how you want it to be. At least that’s the way it looked to me.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Simmons March 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for the note Alex… yes… a lot of folks were bouncing off the movie trailers that makes the movie look like another “Gone in 60 Seconds” movie and when they were hit with a story and dramatic interlude, they were upset. I get where they were coming from… but yea, as an artistic, dramatic piece, it hit some good notes.

Alex March 26, 2012 at 11:54 am

Just watched this on Blu-ray, loved it, cant believe some of the negativity above, booing come on?! The reason I probably missed it at the cinema was because of the trailers and expectations it would be another cheesy cookie cutter action film that come out on the conveyor belt. Dont get me wrong I love cars and car action more than anyone, but there is so much brainless dross out there. Plenty of opportunities for you to whoop at a car which inexplicably explodes another day. I loved weird cool of Goslings character, the innocent unspoken love story offset by the extreme violence, with 80s electro music mixed with a hypnotic soundtrack from Cliff Martinez, and a bit of action too. Drive was different, and it should be congratulated for that.

JJ February 26, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I came into the movie knowing nothing about it other than that a lot of people think Ryan Gosling is hott now. I don’t understand how this review can be positive.

“Ryan Gosling is the driver, a solitary man whose conversational skills involve staring back at someone for at least, what feels like a minute before saying anything. It takes a wee bit of getting used to but its an effective technique for drawing in the movie-goer.”

WTF? An effective technique for me being like why doesn’t anybody ask him what is wrong with him and why he doesn’t talk. Why does anyone let someone who is so weird be around their children. Why is this supposed to be good acting. And then he concludes that it was an hour and 40 minutes but felt longer and that is a good thing? It would probably be an hour long if Ryan Gosling acted like a human.

Bruce Simmons February 24, 2012 at 8:23 am

TJ: Sort of.

The world of movie critics is a small, tight-knit core of artistic movie enthusiasts, who, for the most part, as far as I can tell, write reviews, to and for each other and leave out the fan. (I mean, when I read about there being no character development between sequels, FOR A MOVIE CARTOON, you really have to do a double take.)

IF you were to come into DRIVE, knowing it’s an artistically created dramatic story, I don’t think you would be disappointed. But as it’s marketed, well, the marketing is a lie!

I didn’t mind the story, and I’m adaptable to what I find myself watching, hence my score. But if I were to have scored it on my expectations from the marketing versus what I saw, then I would have given it a “3” probably, since ALL the action scenes seem to be in the trailer.

TJ February 24, 2012 at 8:11 am

Yes…I read the reviews…93% on Rotten Tomatoes!

And then I watched the film…it can’t decide what kinda film it should be (action/drama/mob/romance)…

Anything but entertaining…

Have all the critics smoked crack?

Kevin February 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Probably the worst movie I’ve seen in twenty
Years. Sucks big time. Lame lame lame

Rudyanto Lay December 25, 2011 at 12:53 am

Wow, this movie I have to watch

BadGuy September 30, 2011 at 3:33 am

I can only back the previous commenters up: This movie was awful. It made no sense at all. Part artsy, part action wannabe: All s[expletive removed].


dantheman September 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm

this film was a joke for any real film fan. it was a b movie for people who do not like b movies. gosling looked like a male model throughout the film, every part was mis cast, story was all over the place(hes a getaway driver, then a stuntman, then a mechanic, then suppose to drive a race car, etc. starts as a heist film, then a drama, then mob film. horribly written and lots of plot holes, and in the end, how much driving was really in drive?

ps i liked james taylor better as “the driver” when he did it 30 years ago.

go see warrior, no pretentious crap and nolte is masterful.

David September 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Another one of those “artsy” movies that pseudo-critics claim is great. It’s not, it really sucks. All the main character does is stare and stare and stare some more. Never seen that many people just get up and leave the theatre, and the ones that stayed booed it, but then again, I’m pretty sure the people that liked this piece if crap would say that we didn’t like it because “we don’t get it”… ooohh excuse me mr. intelectualoid movie master!

sam September 20, 2011 at 8:51 am

this movie SUCKED! one of the WORST i’ve ever seen. the only reason i didn’t leave in the middle was that i was hoping it would get better. i’ve never seen so many people leave before the ending and get up so fast as soon as the credits came on.

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