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Drive movie poster

Drive: Movie Review

Genre: Action, Drama
Rated: R
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac
Released by: FilmDistrict

In Short: Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks give compelling performances in this gory action thriller that takes an off-road turn.

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"Drive" to Destiny

As director Nicholas Winding Refn ("Bronson") begins his action thriller "Drive," his leading man is a fascinating guy. Convincingly played by Ryan Gosling, the man known only as "Driver" has nerves of steel, whether he's acting as the wheelman for a daring heist or pulling off a controlled car flip for a Hollywood movie. He's a quiet loner, a seemingly smart guy who works all the angles, with no strings attached.

But then he meets Irene (Carey Mulligan), the lonely mother of a small boy, whose husband is in the slammer. And as Driver's heart melts, his brains go right out the window. When her husband returns from prison, things start to unravel, and Driver quickly finds himself in the middle of a very big, very gory mess.

There's much to like about "Drive," most of which happens in the second half of the film, when the action really heats up. The first half is a slow-moving set-up, with a number of scenes that (oddly and somewhat jarringly) evoke Gosling's acclaimed work in 2010's "Blue Valentine." For as he romances Carey Mulligan, with her blonde pixie cut and big eyes, it's hard to differentiate from similar scenes with Michelle Williams in the earlier film. It's eerily parallel, pulls the viewer out of the story at hand and makes one wonder why Refn and Mulligan decided to crop her hair and dye it blonde for the character, making her look like a clone of Williams.

Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan in Drive Christina Hendricks in Drive

But as the film begins to really roll over the tarmac, bad things start happening at a great rate, as Driver gets in way over his head in a deal gone wrong. He's up against a couple of ruthless businessmen, played well by Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks (who just might get some awards nominations for this unusual dramatic turn from the usually comedic actor) and trouble just seems to follow him no matter where he steers.

Overall, "Drive" is a well-crafted film that keeps the viewer interested in the unfolding action. But as the film plays out, it is a mystery as to why the leading man devolves so quickly from a sharp, in-control and seriously clever guy to an off-the-rails idiot, behaving in ways that make no sense, especially given who he was at the beginning of the story. Perhaps if the character had actually been given a few more lines of dialogue, it would all hold together. As it is, love seems to be the overriding reason, but for some of us, that just isn't enough to explain why he loses control of the vehicle.


Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated: 09/23/13 RED)

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