If you're looking for anything other than an anti-Hollywood, slow, Danish movie complete with long silences and 80s music, you will be disappointed. However, if you accept all of the above, you will be more than happy with the result. Drive will not let you get away with an adrenaline-infused car chase, a short stop, and a larger-than-life explosion. Instead, Drive is one of those movies that straps you in shotgun and won't let you go even after the ride has come to a full and complete stop.
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Here's the theory: being human is hard for Driver. He has to be deliberate about it. He has to think about his words, he has to force them out of it. But as soon as you put him in the driver's seat...as soon as you put a lethal weapon in his hand, he becomes something else entirely. A beast. Being a killer is natural to him. Suddenly his words are quick and intense, thick with conviction. He doesn't have to think, he doesn't hesitate or freeze up. He simply does. The best part is, it only takes two scenes for this to really sink into the hilt. The first is his abrupt "teeth down your throat" conversation, the other is when he kicks the man's head in in the elevator. Brilliant, subtle, but to the point.
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With that, I would very much like to call this a brilliant movie about one man's humanity and wash my hands of it. Except there's still something nagging. And that's the girlfriend, Irene, played by Carey Mulligan. I've got no problem with Carey Mulligan personally, she's gorgeous, I approve. The one thing that bugs me is the fact that she's just as socially awkward as Driver. Which wouldn't be a problem...except for the fact that it undermines my whole fucking argument. What're we supposed to glean from the fact that she seems just as comfortable to sit in silence for five minutes and smile at him? Is she some secret Bride-style killer who has trouble being human too? I don't think so. Whatever's going on there, it blows a hole in my theory and rubs me the wrong way.
Inconsistency aside, everyone else in the movie is brilliant. Bryan Cranston pulls off a fantastically frantic Shannon, Oscar Isaac does a great recently ex-con yet extremely sympathetic Standard, Christina Hendricks is a hilarious double-crossing whore (some things never change), and Albert Brooks plays a terrifying mobster. And Ron Perlman. Where the hell has he been on my life? Doing voice-overs? Ah, no, man. You've got a face like the fucking Hulk--use it! He steals every seen he's in with his vulgar, impulsive mobster brother, Nino. Through the two brothers, and on Driver's part, we get a lot of excellent gore. The gore is always shocking and never apologetic, which is a compliment considering the fact that we've all been numbed when it comes to excessive gore. Yet, somehow, they've managed to bring that hitched-inhale back into a good slit wrist, so more props to them.
Other than that, the complaints are minor. The music was a little jarring from time to time, and not always in a good way. In a half-the-theater-broke-into-laughter kind of way. But, as I said, accept that it's a European style movie relying heavily on inspiration from Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976), strap in, and enjoy the ride. And don't be surprised if you come out with a hankering for Driver's scorpion jacket.