Drive

The driver is usually the unknown hero of the heist film.  In Drive, that hero name remains unknown but acts as the lead of the film.  Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed Driver in a season full of leading roles.  Drive finds itself between Crazy, Stupid Love and The Ides of March as a season full of Gosling’s toned, serious but calm characters.

The driver lives a surprisingly quite life for a Hollywood stunt car slash getaway driver.   His lifestyle and soft spoken personality creates an image of a loner, tinkering away on motors late into the night.  Soft spoken is an exaggeration. In fact, Gosling has hardly any lines.  In lieu of words, the driver’s personality is manifested in the caring attitude towards a neighboring family and the savage brutality towards those who cross him. While I applaud Gosling on his creation of the character, I found that without words his motivation was hard to decipher.  The reffing of an engine or a smile can only generate so much emotion.

When the Driver encounters his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), his solidarity is challenged.  The picture of the secluded man becomes that of a caring father figure to Irene’s son.  They soon become romantically tied but the audience does not see the spark that draws them together.  Instead we are left piecing their relationship together from wordless drives around Los Angeles and the occasional stare.  It seems like a common occurrence for Hollywood to inject love stories into story lines without proper development. Irene’s place as the sole female lead should be more than candy on the arm of the Driver.  Her only compassionate moment is when after a botch heist with the Driver, her husband, Standard is gunned down.

After the wake of the failed robbery, the Driver takes on the role of protector of Irene and her son.  After he discovers  the robbery was a convoluted scheme by the mobster Nino (Ron Pearlman), the Driver’s split personality begins to tangle as he must act brutal in front of Irene.  He begins to grapple with his new found compassion while battling those trying to take him down.  The third act finds the Driver trying to keep the love of the girl yet saving her at all costs.
Drive tries to be a mix between The Fast and The Furious and the Italian Job.  While the opening sequence promises a film full of fast cars and high speeds, it stalls as the plot continues.  Drive focuses on mental prowess rather than full throttle action.  The car obsessed film only offers two car chases early in the film.  What happened?  Your film is called Drive! Why wasn’t their more gear shifting greatness.  Turn your attention to the Fast and The Furious franchise for automobile awesomeness and instead take Drive as a heist film.

Bryan Cranston stars as the mentor with a past similar to the Driver’s current predicament. Christina Hendricks also stars as Blanche, an accomplice in the main heist.

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