Certain shots in the beginning of Drive beg the question – or song lyric from the Cranberries – “Do you have to let it linger?” The first act of the 100 minute feature is running idle for the most part. Long drawn-out scenes, with just a handful of words, dominate this story early on, and the script does not rationalize why it is doing this. Ryan Gosling’s stoic and confident persona intrigues right away, but it gets to a point where this plodding along character study needs to snap into it. And snap it does.
When a thumping gun shot goes off, the wheels start to spin. Within seconds of the script revving up, the elements one dealt with in the raw opening segments begin to pay off. Isolated acts of merciless violence enter the arena as our main character – who is indirectly paying homage to “Johnny” from 1984’s Karate Kid’s with regards to his threads – gives off a vibe of “You don’t know what he’ll do next.” Gosling goes through just about every emotion in this multi-genre montage, save for a pure comedy.
The handful of dark-grins if you will are reserved for L.A. underground mob kingpins Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman. These two are doing just above cameo work here and the same can be said for Gosling’s quasi-handler in Bryan Cranston. All of the players are rugged individuals who wear their past “battle” scars proudly. Nothing is glamorous about their lifestyle yet each of them carries themselves as if no one should mess with them. They all have gritty charisma that balances out Gosling’s deadpan persona.
By now you’re probably asking yourself what is this flick about? Telling you would be a disservice to how the filmmakers set this genre conglomerate up. In the efforts to provide a few cinematic references: this piece encompasses tones from flicks such as Shoot’Em Up, The Transporter and Kill the Irishman; there’s even a horror aesthetic toward the end when factoring in the movie mechanics. The revenge tale that weaves its way in could summon up references to The Crow. It also has a throwback execution to it that can remind you of past crime-dramas done twenty years ago.
What is fascinating is how the cinematography can juxtapose when transitioning to a different genre. Sometimes it’s during the same scene. The linear glue is Gosling’s character that stays steady no matter if he’s on a silent rampage or dealing with a love interest angle that ushers in Carey Mulligan. For once, Mulligan’s moping around actually fit’s the bill here. That said, is anyone else tired of seeing her depressed demeanor on-screen? Is this all she can do? Cry?
Based on all the above, this flick seems to have a little bit of everything. By having patience, every emotional vibe in the viewer’s body will get a decent jolt once the story is allowed to show its true bloody colors throughout the less glamorous spots in Los Angeles.
Overall, Drive is a dark-horse that truly knows what it’s made of. There’s nothing flashy or finesse about the product or the crafting behind the lens. It’s pretty much a gloomy character drama that splices in audacious action at all the right moments.
RATING: 4 out of 5