Monday, February 13, 2012


Ryan Gosling's character is known only as, "The Driver," which is fitting, because that's all he does. Whether it is earning a living as a Hollywood stuntman or moonlighting as a getaway driver for hire, he does one thing and he does it extremely well. The Driver stirs up memories of Clint Eastwood's The Man with No Name. To the audience, he has no past, no family, and no emotions, or so we think.

The film is set in Los Angeles, although with the opening credits and the soundtrack, it feels like we are watching an old rerun of Miami Vice. Driver lives next door to Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). When The Driver is introduced to his neighbors, we begin to see a glimmer of emotion and an eventually motivator for the rest of the storyline. A week later, Irene's husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) returns home from prison and finds his wife and son warmed up to this quiet stranger. However, instead of succumbing to jealously, Standard senses that The Driver is a professional and comes to him with a need for a wheelman. The ensuing heist puts both Irene and Benicio in danger, leading The Driver to reveal his deep-seeded emotions and loyalties.

Drive, is teeming with influence from classic film noir pieces. The anticipation and tenseness that the audience experiences comes from the fact the emotions and feelings aren't out in the open, but rather hidden in the shadows. The Driver embodies these noir traits, only to have them amplified by the juxtaposition of the characters surrounding him, who bring backgrounds into the story. Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman play influential men in the world of organized crime in Los Angeles and steal the show every time they set foot in a scene. Bryan Cranston also helps to bring life to the world of The Driver, as his mentor in the world of automobiles.

On the surface, Drive may seem like another film along the vein of The Fast and the Furious: another action movie jam packed with car chases and predictable story lines. But this film places emphasis on writing, dialogue, and storytelling, leading us to care not only about the enigmatic protagonist, but also about the reason and outcome of the car chases. We aren't content to sit back and be overwhelmed by special effects and CGI. Instead, we hang on the edge of our seats, following the hero through his exploits and waiting for him to ride, or rather drive, off into the sunset.