The Driver is a Hollywood stuntman by day and chauffeur for the criminals by night. He gets his cars from a middle aged washed up mechanic named Shannon. He gives the criminals five minutes to be in and out, no questions asked. He meets a woman named Irene who lives in the same apartment complex as him. He begins to spend a lot of time with her, and one night after her ex-husband is released from prison he is found badly beaten. The Driver helps him by offering to provide his services when he hears that Irene and her young son may be in danger. After the heist is botched, The Driver is left to fend for himself.
Drive is a film about a man who has a special talent. He is skilful in the art of driving a car. He can gear up and gear down like there is nothing to it. He weaves in and out of traffic with such ease and proficiency, like a paintbrush lathering on the paint with perfection. He spends most of his time quietly waiting as the thieves do their business, he never asks them questions, never meddles in their affairs. He always gets the job done when he is called upon.
Drive is very different from films of the same nature. Most of them of are in your face adrenaline rushes, similar to Fast and Furious. Drive is a bit of oddity because there are scenes of dramatic getaway chases, but there are also scenes where it is slowly paced in order to fully progress the story of the film.
For some reason it just does not work. It is meant to bring a counter balance to the recent trend in fast paced car chase movies, but the fans of those movies pay to see exactly that. The reason it does not work in Drive is because the action scenes are slow building. The Driver is waiting for the criminals to come back. He keeps checking his watch; he takes notice of other cars. This builds tension because it is clear that something bad is going to happen, but you need to watch and wait. Then it happens, a gunshot, a squeal of the tires and the action begins. Both cars are engaged with each other, slowly bumping one another. Then they pull out all the big stops like sudden turns and drifting. Then one car gets away. Right after this intensely built scene, there is a slow scene with very little dialogue and characters staring at a wall for twenty minutes. It just doesn’t flow; more dialogue could have built better characters. It should have been more action and less attempted character development in the format they used. Or another solution could have been a different format all together, with more character development and shorter more direct action scenes.
Ryan Gosling plays a character that says very little but accomplishes a lot through-out the film. His character is soft spoken, and on top of that rarely ever speaks. Gosling however somehow pulls off a tremendous performance. His gruff and intimidating look is enough for him to sell the performance. His intensity in the build-up scenes and his emotions as the film progresses were all enough for him to look tough. Gosling may not have said much, but his expression and emotions colourfully lathered on many different coats of carefully applied craftsmanship.
Drive has more flaws than it does positives; it is a film where the characters are not at all relatable. They all speak, but are not given enough dialogue to say anything that resonates with the audience. Irene spoke very few words herself, so her development scenes with The Driver were all but useless to the overall story. Some movies bog down their action with dialogue, but Drive had already established the action. The film was roughly 100 minutes, therefore extending the dialogue and adding on an extra 20 to that total would have given the producers the perfect recipe for success.
It is a very simple movie. If you like movies that are straight forward, feature no complicated twist or real shocking moments then Drive is essentially the movie for you. Other than a few scenes with gun shots and blood splatter, Drive is essentially a movie where a driver gets to drive his cars. It is good for what it is; it could have used a few rewrites to be just that much better. Overall it is a three out of five and is good for entertainment value.