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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

'Drive': An impressive throwback of a film

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm a sucker for a good throwback flick. I love films that capture the essence of a time and certain style of cinema. All too often films try but never succeed.

That, however, is not the case with "Drive."

For those who haven't seen or heard much about the film, it follows Driver (Ryan Gosling), a man who is magic behind the wheel of a car, as he gets caught up some nasty stuff with criminals Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman) after trying to help his lovely neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan).

Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), fresh out of prison, is visited by thugs who beat him up over protection money he owes from his stint in prison. Driver, who strikes up a budding relationship with Irene, chooses to help Standard get the money to keep his family safe. But when the robbery is botched, Driver finds himself racing to set things right before Irene, his garage boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston) and even he suffer the wrath of Bernie and Nino.

Although Driver is a quiet character, it's clear when the going gets tough, he's not one to be crossed. As the two baddies send person after person to take him out, Driver shows just what he's capable of. In the end, it's Driver facing off against Bernie for all the marbles -- or in this case a million dollars, but only one can walk away for live another day.

"Drive" feels like two films wrapped into one. On one hand it's a heavy storied, character driven film, while on the other hand it has over the top violence of grindhouse flicks of the '70s. I was actually shocked when the violence happened and found myself caught so off guard that I went back to make sure I didn't miss something leading up to the scenes. "Drive" doesn't get bloody until toward the end, but when it does, it makes up for lost time.

Gosling proves once again what a great actor he is -- able to flips the switch between scenes, ranging from soft talks with Irene to ultra-violent outbursts toward the end of the film. Gosling's greatest strength as an actor is to act without saying a word. What takes other actors scenes to achieve, Gosling is able to convey with a few looks.

But it's not just Gosling who excels in "Drive". Cranston and Brooks are the standouts in supporting roles. Both actors are known mostly for comedic turns in films and television, but there's nothing funny about their roles in "Drive". After watching the film, I can truly say Brooks was robbed by not being nominated for an Oscar for his efforts.

Mulligan gives another solid performance as Irene, but almost gets lost in the shuffle as Gosling, Cranston and Brooks dance through scenes and effortlessly steal the spotlight. The only character I didn't fully buy into was Perlman's Nino. He felt more like a caricature than real and he never seemed to be the threat others made him out to be.

The greatest thing "Drive" achieves is to hit you with the unpredictable. I didn't expect to love the movie as much as I did and I fully didn't expect it to leave such a lasting impression.

Final Cut: Usually films of this nature are a one-time view and then forgotten, but I dare you to try to forget "Drive."

Clearly one of the best movies of last year, its omission during award season is as criminal as the actions of the bad guys in it. "Drive" begs to be seen.

5 out of 5 stars


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman

Director: Nicholas Winding Refn

Writer: Hossein Amini

Run time: 98 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity