Drive was a movie I was really looking forward to seeing, and for the first 10 minutes I was pretty happy. After that it was down hill.
From the trailer and buzz, Drive seemed like it would be a big budget remake of the Transporter. There are a few similar elements, but I think it is a much deeper movie than Transporter. I just wish it was as fun to watch.
The first 10 minutes or so are pretty wonderful. The action builds tension without resorting to the typical car movie cliches. The focus remains on Gosling’s ambiguous driver as he skirts through the police search grid after a successful heist.
After that though it’s 40 minutes of nothing.
It’s 40 minutes of character building without building a characters. All we learn about the main character is that he drives. He barely mumbles a word or two. He is a blank slate surrounded by much deeper characters. Obviously, it’s intentional.
The driver is a soul teetering on the edge of morality. He’s a human vessel tested with greed, wrath, lust and a few other sins. I get that. I do. But the scenes are slow and drawn out. It wasn’t long before I just started making fun of the movie.
The budding romance between the driver and Irene (Carey Mulligan) doesn’t work. The details seemed silly. While driving her around he looks at her playfully and offers to show her something.
Okay, I’m ready for something appropriately romantic. But he shows her a storm drain. Not only that but he drives recklessly while her son is sitting in her lap without a seat belt. Then they stop and throw rocks in the water. Really? THAT’S the big romantic thing he wanted to show her? Sewage?
And of course, Irene’s son clearly suffers from Narcolepsy as every time the driver visits the scene has to end with the sleeping kid being put to bed by Gosling. Yeah, it was still light outside. I didn’t think a preteen would be so overwhelmed by muddy storm water.
The romance stumbles on until Irene’s husband returns from jail. He’s suspicious. Everyone’s awkward (after all Irene did hold the driver’s hand at one point, that slut!). What does Irene do? She invites the driver to dinner. Wow.
Eventually the film picks up again as our driver returns to driving once again. Things go wrong as we’ve been expecting. Christina Hendrick gets shot in the face. Not good. I instantly hate any movie that features Christina Hendrick being murdered. Call it a style choice.
The action works okay for the most part. However it’s soon apparent that no one in the film has ever seen a gangster movie ever. The driver tells his bodyshop-owning friend to leave town or die. The friend goes back to his shop which is also the very first place the bad guys would look. To make it worse, the driver goes back there, too.
I really enjoyed the chemistry between Ron Pearlman and Albert Brooks. I would love to see a spin-off prequel. Brooks especially was a brilliant choice for a good-guy “mafia” type.
Again though, both guys know some major stuff is happening, but neither cares to increase their security. Pearlman doesn’t even carry a gun. In fact, once the driver ambushes him on the beach, Pearlman runs toward the ocean to escape.
And then there’s the final showdown. Bernie and the driver both lack any sense of tactics or the idea of basic self-preservation. It’s like they made up the scene on the day they were shooting it.
I know plenty of people love this film, but I don’t get it.