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Review

‘Drive’ is a spectacular crime drama which suffered false advertising

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September 28, 2016

“Drive” is a film that, upon its release, garnered much praise from critics and won Best Director at Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, the audience reaction was like that of seeing a second rate “Fast and Furious” movie, which is the fault of misleading marketing. Essentially, “Drive” is a perfectly paced, incredibly well-acted and beautifully shot film about a story we’ve all seen before.

“Drive” is a 2011 crime drama that stars Ryan Gosling as the main character (who is only referred to as Driver) and is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

The movie starts out with the Driver doing what he does best: driving. He acts as a getaway driver at night, and a stuntman/part-time mechanic during the day. Driver is the employee of a garage owner named Shannon (Bryan Cranston) who also supplies cars for Driver to use on heists. Shannon gets involved with a local gangster named Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) in order to fund the purchase of a racing stock car that Driver will, well, drive.

Later on, we are introduced to Irene, a young single mother (Carey Mulligan). The relationship that Driver and Irene develop is definitely the emotional focal point of the movie. Driver, at least from what we see in the first few scenes, is a man that shows little emotion and seems to not have much of a personal life outside of work. But through his relationship with Irene and her young son we get to see Driver’s personality come out, and it is an absolute pleasure to watch.

Of course this isn’t just a romantic film, so through a certain turn of events Driver gets in too deep with Bernie as well as another local gangster, Nino (Ron Perlman). And this is where we are faced with the focal point and main plot line for the latter three quarters of the movie.

Now as previously said, the trailer for “Drive” touts the film as basically a Ryan Gosling fronted version of “The Fast and the Furious.” However, that is a far cry from what we actually have here, which is for the better. This is not an action movie; it is, at its core, a drama. There is of course action, but it isn’t what makes this movie stand out, (although the intensity and raw violence we see is spectacular). It is instead about the situations Driver gets into trying to protect Irene and her family from these gangsters.

Where there is action however, it is some high quality, edge of your seat, oh-my-gosh-what-is-he-going-to-do-now type action. Some of it towards the end might put some people off due to the the extremity of the violence, but it isn’t gory just to be gory; it adds a sense of mortality to the situations, and in some scenes further characterizes Driver.

Ryan Gosling, without a doubt, is the perfect choice for this role. He shows so much constraint throughout the first half of the movie and that makes the second half an absolute thrill to watch as his character has to perform some dirty deeds. It’s a perfect emotional contrast, and it makes his motivations and raw emotion so much more palpable and believable. He doesn’t even need to say much; all the context and emotion is shown through his expressions. And every word that is said has meaning. There is not a single line of dialogue that isn’t important in this film. It all builds the characters, especially Driver, and points the story forward while giving keen listeners clues for what is to come.

Driver is a normal guy, and seeing how he deals with events and situations which are way over his head is refreshing. Rather than watching a special operations trained man or a martial artist fight his way through a situation, we get to see how Driver deals with problems he has never had to deal with before, and he gets out of some by only the skin of his teeth.

It really is a shame that this film was so falsely advertised. In truth, it may not be for everyone, especially if all you want is a cliché action flick. This is much more than that. If you are interested in watching this film then the following recommendation is for your own good: Do not watch the trailers. They give away and show you every great moment in the film and it literally has every action sequence in it. It is best to go in with the least amount of info possible and just experience all it has to offer. Which, in this case, is a treasure trove.

Wesley Sigsworth is a student at UW-River Falls.