DRIVE is a mesmerizing, artsy, bold, creative, epic, stylish, crafty and HIGHLY entertaining film, it reminded me why I LOVE cinema. The film gripped me from the incredibly tense and VERY well shot opening scene till the end credits and it NEVER lets down. Ryan Gosling gives a calm but powerful performance as Driver, a guy who does stunt work for the movies and at night drives getaway cars for small heists for extra money. His movie manager is Shannon (Bryan Cranston) who tells him when the next gig will be. It was pretty cool to see a glimpse of the inside work of a stuntman. Gosling is so good in delivering this role because the script called for a character who is a private and loner type of guy in general until he meets and falls in love with his neighbor Irene (the beautiful Carey Mulligan) Sure he might be calm and might utter just one liners when Irene asks him something but when the plot requires him to deal out moments with force and intensity, he delivers. There is a cool scene where he threatens this girl in bed and Gosling delivers it with such a calm intensity that you say to yourself "I didn't know this skinny kid from REMEMBER THE TITANS had this in him" Trust me. He does.
I just got so caught up with the film that the 1 hour and 40 minutes of running time went by so fast, that's when you know a movie is great. You don't even remember to check what time it is because of how good the film is. Albert Brooks plays Bernie Rose the bad guy of the film along with Ron Pearlman who plays Nino, Brooks got nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the sinister Bernie but not an Oscar nomination. Driver gets in trouble involving Bernie through wanting to help Irene and her cute son Benicio (Kaden Lios)from Benicio's father Standard (Oscar Isaac)and that's where it gets even MORE interesting. I've always been a fan of Brooks ever since I saw him in THE SCOUT (1994) he's one of those actors that can play any role his agent finds him.
Another aspect of the film that makes it work so well is the fact that it is very well directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. The chase scenes are shot differently and they include lots of intense closeups of Gosling to keep the tension in the scene alive and they work very well also because the chase scenes don't include background music so it keeps the focus on the action in the scene as well as what's happening inside the car with the characters. There is one incredible stunt move in the second big chase scene that I'm still thinking about this very moment and in fact would make me go and pop in the Blu Ray disc again just to see it. It's that good.
Many things have to come together for a film to work obviously like the editing the cinematography the music and the acting. The acting and directing in this movie are superb but what I also love about the film was the movie's soundtrack. Wow, every song fit perfectly with what was happening on screen, it's kinda like a technoish popish sound that sounded like something that came out of the 70s but it fit in so good, just like every song that Quentin Tarantino adds to his films because they fit in to what's happening on screen and even when its not a song that's being sung; the score is great as well. I just can't stop taking about this film, I REALLY enjoyed it and the only thing that stopped me from giving it 4 stars was the ending, it is not the worst ending of all time, mind you but I felt it could've been better, its one of those endings that leaves it to the audience's imagination as to what happened next. The movie kind of reminded of THE TRANSPORTER but better directed with more finesse.
Like I mentioned before I enjoyed the film very much from beginning to end but there was this one beautiful scene that felt retro in a way based on how it was shot. It was the elevator scene with Driver, Irene and this bad guy. Driver goes in for a kiss to Irene knowing the danger that's about to happen and as he swoops in for the kiss the lighting in the elevator dims beautifully to only reveal Driver and Irene kiss before delving into a brutally bloody moment. Awesome. Beautiful. Thought provoking. And most important of all...different.
3 and a half out of 4 stars.