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Film review: Drive

12th October 2011

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Entering the cinema, having not watched the trailer, I had no preconceived ideas about Drive, which I presumed would be thriller-like in nature.

DriveIt would be easy, on evidence of the trailer, to dismiss Drive as another clichéd action movie, with car chases, explosions and of course a girl… but Drive is so much more than that.

It is a beautifully crafted, gorgeous, 80s induced orgy of explosive action, crime and ego.

I found myself checking back to verify whether the movie was set in the 80s or the present day – triggered by the lush, meaty synth track ‘Nightcall’ by Kavinsky and the films logo. It was only the fact that the nameless main character was fiddling with the radio on a clearly modern day dashboard that clearly showed me this was set in 2011.

The subtle 80s undertones and style that runs through the movie is a lovely touch that makes Drive much more than just another action thriller; it added romance, dimension and above all a visual and auditory treat.

The film is set in California, around our protagonist – a Hollywood movie stunt driver, who instead of getting a few cheeky shifts at McDonalds for extra cash provides his services as a highly skilled getaway driver for the criminal underworld. His boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston) overlooks his ‘career’ and unashamedly exploits him in any way he can, his latest idea is stock car racing – in which Shannon has set up an investor – a very logical idea if we’re to believe the talent of the young driver.

‘Drive’ is a bit of a slow burner, steadily unveiling its plot, but it had me on tenterhooks for the duration, desperate to find out what was to become of the elusive driver.

It is the fact the main character (Ryan Gosling) remains nameless throughout that acts as a constant reminder that we know next to nothing about him, his past and what brought him to California at all. But this sense of needing to know also acts as a barrier to understanding why he puts his life and a huge opportunity with great monetary rewards in jeopardy, over a girl he has known for such a short period of time.

What I loved most is how Nicolas Winding Refn (director) has crafted Drive in such a precise yet modest manner, making it not only entertaining but an experience in itself - right down to the soundtrack. The colours, the detail and general aesthetics of the film are perfect, Refn has blended so many styles and ideas to create a truly tasty smoothie of a film, which could quite easily have turned into a complete mess.

In all, Drive is a great film, it has everything – but is not for the faint-hearted. Casting is great, with exceptional performances from Ryan Gosling and Brian Cranston.

Go and see this movie…don’t be put off by the trailer!

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