Drive. A simple, yet functional title. However, going by the trailer and title, one would expect the film to be similar to the likes of ‘The Fast and the Furious’, full of expensive cars and equally expensive scenes. On this occasion, you’d be wrong. Drive is a relatively low-budget title from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, and focuses on a character without a name, referred to only as ‘Driver’, or ‘The Kid’. He is a stunt driver for the movies, aswell as the occasional getaway driver for the odd theft every now and then. The film features a love story, a number of car chases, but not as many as you’d think and deep characterisation.
Ryan Gosling plays the ‘Driver’ role, and plays it well. He doesn’t have a huge amount of dialogue, his body langauge being his main method to communicate with. He’s a mysterious figure and the audience isn’t 100% sure of his mental state, or what he is going to do next. Gosling is also not quite the instantly recognisable Hollywood star that most movies feature, which helps to create and maintain his image as a mysterious being in the film. If, for example, George Clooney was the star, people would be transfixed to him, people wouldn’t be able to imagine him being such a strange person.
The film features strong support from the likes of Bryan Cranston (best known for his role as ‘Hal’ in the successful sitcom ‘Malcolm in the Middle’), Carey Mulligan as Gosling’s love interest and Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman-‘Hellboy’!-as two gangsters, with whom Gosling is aiming to track down. It’s these characters that bring emotion and heart to the film, and act as good foils for Gosling’s near silent role. Cranston, and Brooks, in particular surprised me, as both are veterans of TV and film respectively, but offered strong roles as the ‘goodie’ and ‘baddie’.
The previously mentioned chase scenes are exciting and offer respite from the ‘lovey-dovery’ scenes for the action fans amongst the audience. However, the lack of them is quite frustrating, although the film doesn’t allow itself to rely soley on them to impress. No, the soundtrack is fantastic, offering odd electric tracks, that pulsate beneath the increasingly violent action. The increasingly common trait of putting classical music over violent action scenes is also in effect here, and I like it. It adds dramatic effect to what is happening, and in the scene I’m referring to, it fits perfectly.
The two halves of the film, however, are distinctly different. The first is more insistent on setting up the story of Gosling’s character and the other strong supporting characters that he interacts with. Whilst the second is more full of violence and pure action, there are still breaks for the important storylines to be resolved, but it’s more based on getting to the conclusion through the violence. I liked both on the whole as they offered reasons behind the pretty gruesome violence, and really showed Gosling’s character to be completely different to how I expected. For some though, the violence will be too much, more out of surprise than anything. It’s worse than in ‘Kick-Ass’, a complete different tale, but one you’d expect rough violent actions in, unlike this rather timid affair, until scenes in which body parts of people are removed. By kicking, or maybe stomping would be a more accurate word.
One thing I wasn’t too keen on was the sometimes slow, stodgy pace, the first half in particular took. The soundtrack and visuals were delights, but at times couldn’t hide it. Again going back to my worst film of 2011, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, the use of ultimately pointless shots of mundane things wasn’t too much of a problem here, but was on the verge of being!