I have a problem…I’ve had it for as long as I can remember.
I build movies up in my mind before I ever get close to seeing them in the theater. I get so excited for a film that by the time I actually do witness the greatness that I’ve created, I’m a little more than disappointed.
The first time I saw the trailer for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, I said to myself: “This is going to be my favorite movie of all time.”
Well, because the climax of the trailer involves Ryan Gosling putting a bullet on a man’s forehead and raising a hammer as if he’s going to pound the piece of ammunition into the poor bastard’s skull.
That was enough to sell me. Needless to say, at the stroke of midnight on Friday September 16th, 2011, I was in the theater getting ready to see what I believed to be the greatest movie in the history of the world.
From the opening scenes of Drive, I knew I was in for a unique movie-going experience. In one of the best car chase sequences I’ve seen in a long time, Ryan Gosling introduces us to his character…a quiet, meticulous, bad ass getaway driver who knows the streets of Los Angeles better than the police department.
The car chase was so intriguing because while it involved some fancy maneuvering, what it was really built on was the chess game that Gosling played with the police…There were no prolonged screeches of tires, but rather there were instances of fast driving in LA, and there were instances of sitting still under a bridge waiting for a helicopter to pass.
But don’t worry…there is plenty of action in this movie…and a second killer chase scene.
This movie is your standard heist story with a little love thrown in the mix for good measure. Yet, somehow between the cinematography, soundtrack, acting, editing, incredible roaring sound, and everything else, Drive serves up a movie like I’ve never seen before. There’s no fancy David Mamet twists…there’s no mind-boggling 3D…
What the movie is…is real.
Aside from the opening scene, the first half of the movie is fairly low-key. We learn about Gosling’s unnamed character, his sidekick Bryan Cranston (who was great) and his neighbor Carey Mulligan. Then, in the middle of a robbery meant to help his neighbor’s husband get out of some bad debt he got into while in prison, things go terribly wrong.
At the snap of a finger, the somewhat quiet movie turns into a brutally violent drama that shocks the audience.
The violence that erupts out of nowhere takes you by surprise. There’s no cinematic build-up, there’s no cheap thrills. But in one instant, an onslaught of bloody fury takes over the screen and feels so real, so raw, that you can’t help but gasp.
From that moment on, the movie takes you on a wild, violent ride. Gosling’s character has an extremely minimal amount of dialogue, yet he is able to pull you in to care about every single move he makes. He’s a man full of rage and an incredible level of self-control…he only lets loose when it is absolutely necessary.
From the beginning to the end, this movie lived up to my expectations. That in itself warrants a rave review.
The build up around this movie and the sensational response it’s received from Hollywood and critics reminds of The Hurt Locker. That movie was nothing special…no big political statement, no fancy “read between the scenes” mentality…Just a good movie from start to finish. Expertly shot, expertly acted, expertly executed.
Drive is the same way. Some might feel it is a bit of a stretch, but I will not be shocked if Ryan Gosling receives an Oscar nod for his performance. For that matter, Nicolas Winding Refn should receive a nomination for directing this epic film.
It’s a simple story that is done so beautifully it’ll leave you wanting more.
It’s left me wanting more. I’m guessing I’ll be back in the theater this weekend watching Drive. I hope I see you there.