Hype Movie Review: Drive (mild spoilers)

Last night I was graciously invited by NOS Energy Drink and The ID Agency to an advance screening of “Drive” (in theaters this Friday).  The plot of “Drive” revolves Ryan Gosling’s character (who has no name) who stunt drives for B-movies during the day and offers his services as a get-away drivers for two-bit crooks at night.  Both endeavors seem to go well for him until he gets involved Mafia mix up while trying to help the estranged husband of his love interest.  I saw the previews for this film a while back and judging from the trailers I was expecting something of a “good guy in a bad situation” type plot with a backdrop of racing and city car chases.  “Drive” is NOT that film!  What “Drive” attempts to be is a display of “character study”.  That means something to film students but to the rest of us it means scant dialogue and many, many long awkward pauses between characters.  I get that sometimes silence is used to create tension, and there is plenty of that in this film but they also use silence in instances where there is no tension at all which is just weird!  Maybe I am old school but I like my movie characters to F’ing talk to each other!

The director tries to paint Gosling’s character (who has no name in the tradition of Clint Eastwood) as a deep mysterious character who is outwardly simple.  Most of his responses to other characters in the film are no longer than 4 words.  A strong silent Clint Eastwood type in a movie about driving looks good on paper does it not?  However it did not seem to work for me watching in practice.  In the first half of the film most of “Driver’s” exchanges with the love interest character are painfully awkward and mostly silent.  More frustrating than that was the fact that for a movie called “Drive” there are precious few driving scenes but I will say most of those scenes are impressive and are all done practically, meaning no CGI of cars flying or driving through explosions.  So kudos to them on that but still my frustration with this film mounted.

I was getting ready to write this flick off completely but then the half way mark came and the Mafia element started to become more and more prominant.  It was at that point that the movie transformed from a film student’s love letter to himself to an all out Tarintino-esque, hyper violent, hyper graphic fest of glorious violence.  It turns out that this strong silent type “Driver” is actually a raging psychopath with a small moral streak.  He kills several people without hesitation and even smacks around a woman!

I will admit once he starts fighting for his life the movie got compelling but it took so long to get to that point that it is hard for me to know what to make of this film overall.  I guess my final opinion would be watch the movie but show up to the theater 30 to 45 minutes late, trust me you will not miss much if you do.

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