“Drive” is a small, tense, rhythmic film with a big payoff. Don’t confuse “Drive” with its nonsensical precedents like “Fast and Furious.” This film is an existential homage to the long, dark drives on urban streets of LA, 400 horsepower under the hood of your standard Chrysler 300 V-8. There, the journey is much more important than the destination. There is violence in this film and it is shocking, but it is not gratuitous and it all works.
The narrative is relatively simple and tightly wound. Ryan Gosling is the quiet, steel-eyed protagonist. His character is not great, but more good than bad. He is a movie stunt driver who augments his income by driving for night-time factory heists. This is a minor character flaw, we are to understand; this man has integrity and values. It seems that money is less the issue with him than the spirit of the getaway – and, the getaway is not all speed and automotive brawn. As evidenced in the opening scene, there is a cat-like subtlety to picking your way from one part of town to another, now slow, now fast, while dozens of cop cars are chasing you.
Gosling’s character lives simply and he is lonely. He befriends a family – actually the wife and son - whose husband and father falls victim to outside threats. Threat is in the form of Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman who are surprisingly sinister in over-the-top roles. Gosling must act to help his friends. This is his fate, and it is in this capacity around which the story and action evolves. The driving sequences are terrific, well directed, well contained, like a perfect dance sequence. The movie is about character and movement, and in every respect it is absorbing and suspenseful. I highly recommend it.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident and long-time film-aficionado. After retiring from his career as an engineer, he has shifted his focus to reviewing movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.