Take the brevity and gore of Cormac McCarthy, the handling and soundtrack from Vice City, plus Ron Perlman in some nice sweatsuits, and you’ve got Ryan Gosling-vehicle DRIVE. Considered by many as the most underrated and under-awarded movie of 2011, DRIVE tells the story of a Hollywood stunt driver who is lured away from his darker, part time job as a get away driver by the effortlessly enchanting Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her too cute son Benicio (Kaden Leos).
The opening scene of DRIVE is, in a way, a short film that demonstrates how visceral and suspenseful a properly directed chase scene can be. Set to the tune of an LA Clippers radio broadcast, there is hardly a word spoken as Gosling handles his way through the back-alleys of Los Angeles, evading patrol cars and air support.
Gosling says very little over the course of the film, but he’s mastered the art of “suggestive brooding.” He seems at peace with Irene and her son, but his interactions with every other character are supplanted by the idea that Gosling might tear someones throat out at any moment. Then he cracks a half-grin, checks the collar on his signature Scorpion driver’s jacket, and all is well.
The plot does not fully take until Benecio’s father gets out of jail. Suddenly things start happening, things you new DRIVE was capable of but hadn’t made good on for about 45 minutes. Without spoiling much, the film has more than a few cringe-inducing moments, including a man’s face being reduced to red ruins courtesy of Gosling’s boot.
Toward the ends DRIVE indulges a bit too much into artistry and sentiment, sacrificing some of the momentum it had so carefully built up, but it never touches on cliche. If you have Netflix, there is no reason you should not be setting aside some time to watch DRIVE. 7.8/10.