Genre-Bending Drive a Thrill Ride

Posted on March 19, 2012 by

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Drive is the latest thriller from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. Ryan Gossling stars as Driver (the audience never learns his real name), who is a mechanic and stuntman by day and a getaway driver for heists and robberies by night. He knows his way around Los Angeles and can certainly handle himself behind the wheel.

Drive begins with an exhilarating car chase in which Driver uses his knowledge of the city to outsmart the police and get the thieves away from the crime scene. There’s only one other car chase set piece in Drive; the movie focuses much more on Driver’s experiences outside of the car.

Ultimately, Drive is an action movie, but it pushes the limits of the genre so much that you forget what you’re watching. The scene where Driver stalks mafia associate Nino (Ron Perlman) down the beach while wearing a mask he stole from a movie set seems like it was lifted directly out of a slasher film.

There are countless other influences on Drive, mostly 80s, from the retro soundtrack to the hot pink title artwork. As the story unfolds, Drive puts the pedal to the metal, getting more intense as each character is killed off.

Drive is certainly not for the weak at heart, nor is it for those seeking a genre-abiding movie full of chases and other set pieces typical of action movies. The entire cast is excellent, but the stone-cold Gossling truly shines as the mysterious Driver.

We never learn his back story, what his motives are, or even his actual name. The romance story seems a bit tedious, but that’s really only one complaint. Drive is an exhilarating ride from start to finish, and was one of the best movies of 2011.

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