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“Drive” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

September 9, 2011

There are over 100,000 streets in the city of LA, 2,000 heists a year, and one that had to foul up. Ryan Gosling stars in this sleek, badass, crime thriller. It’s unique, refreshing, different, and yet familiar. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, of Denmark, the “Bronson” director returns to another hard-nosed gritty movie about a man with nothing on his mind except the job at hand. Refn’s style is very European, bringing that style to an American audience is a bold move, a terrific move may I add. This film hits everything right. The characters are all distinct in their own way; the story is intensifies when it has to. It was without a doubt the best movie of 2011, and is certain to garner cult status.

The Driver (Gosling), he has no name, he doesn’t need one, he’s simply the Driver. A movie stunt driver by day, moonlighting as a getaway man by night. He’s a stern, straight arrow guy, who’s their to do his job, focus, and onto the next one. He sits in that car, waiting, with a watch attached to the steering wheel, and chewing on a toothpick, waiting for those 5 minutes to close, it all seems to work out for the Driver. That is until he meets Irene (Carey Mulligan), his next-door neighbor. What starts out as meaningless acquaintance turns into a relationship of sweet kindness between two strangers. He befriends Irene and her son, Benicio (Kadens Leo), the three of them become close friends. That is until Irene’s ex-con husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is released from prison. Standard runs into a problem when the guys that were keeping him safe in jail, want 40,000 grand as a payoff. He gets in deep with these guys, after a brutal beat down,  they are forcing him to pull a job. Out of the kindness of the Driver’s heart, he decides to help so that Irene & Benicio will be safe. But, things don’t go according to plan, and certain persons that the Driver knows of happened to be involved, it becomes personal after that.

From the opening, this movie captured my attention, it’s text font is in the style of a cool 80′s intro, the opening getaway Gosling does is a game of cat-and-mouse. This film is straight up cool as the Driver himself. He keeps his cool throughout the beginning/middle portion; standing straight, barely blinking an eye, he’s in the zone. But, when things go down, he unleashes a scary vicious side you don’t want to see. He can snap like twig, and it’s intimidating. The movie is itself is calming, the intense scenes really creep up on you, and when they do it can become hard to watch at times. One scene in particular took place in an elevator, it had the audience going nuts. There was a mixture of horrified and cheerful screams. I love it when a movie rivals up a crowd.

The cinematography was beautiful; each shot is like an astonishing canvas. There are these static shots used throughout the film, no cutaways, or quick cuts, to few this might make even the most little ADHD person move around in their seat out of boredom, but these shots work. You get this full emotional look into the characters eyes. We Americans love quick-fast moving shots, and with a story like this, you’d expect that, but it’s nice for a director to sit back and take the audience on a cinematic drive into this world. It didn’t need to be fast paced/in your face. The cool atmosphere, the unnerving scenes, and the intense violence made the movie what it is. I’m all about music, this movie had a great soundtrack, again point goes to Cliff Martinez. There’s this 80′s feel to it, along with that 80′s style credits, the music itself is very 80′s. The subtle techno-pop is utilized nicely in this film, it adds a special flavor, especially to the intense scenes.

The cast is well rounded. Ryan Gosling will earn yet another Oscar nomination for sure, but will he win? I’d hope so, he was freaking scary in this film. The supporting players, Carey Mulligan & Oscar Issacs weren’t bad, but I have to give it to the three funny wise guys; Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, and Ron Pearlman. Pearlman & Brooks were scene-stealers as the crime boss types. It’s funny, you’d never peg Albert Brooks to play a gangster, but damn he was a mean one, and vicious too. Great cast, seriously one of the best of the year.

It’s safe to say that I’ve found my favorite movie of the year (so far). Sure, there’s plenty of other movies coming out, but this was one that I had the biggest impact on me, it was a ride unlike any other this year. It’s one of those movies I can watch over and over. I’m excited to see this movie again when it comes out next week.

GRADE: A+

Special thanks to Rochelle Slofkis for the input on the movie and for attending the screening.

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