Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff


Sometimes films don’t know exactly what they are or what they wish to be. Drive does not have that problem: the film knows exactly what it wants to be. Its a heist-gone-wrong movie which focuses on mood and tension as opposed to action and hijinks. And that mood and tension is played up to near pitch-perfect levels.

The first half of this movie is incredibly strong. Ryan Gosling plays a stunt car driver who also drives for various criminal activities. His character is quiet and aloof, but not in a cold and distant way necessarily. After all, he does develop a relationship with the girl next door (Carey Mulligan) and her son. The action scenes are filmed much like Gosling’s character; soft spoken yet incredibly intense at the same time. This is seen most strongly with the opening getaway set piece where Gosling evades a police search with two robbers in his back seat. Its not like any car chase you’ve likely seen.

The director Nicolas Refn has a great sense of how to create this bubbling tension throughout the whole movie. On the outside it may seem like a slow movie where not much happens, but when watching the film you realize that its always moving because this tension is constantly simmering to a boil.

However, the problem is that when you have a movie which is one big build up of moody anmospehere and increasing pressure, you’d better damn well deliver with a strong climax. This is Drive’s downfall, as it ends on a pretty weak note for such a strong film. And especially with the way its filmed, you as the audience are really going to be expecting a big pay-off, something both emotionally and technically driven, and hopefully something a little out of the ordinary. Instead we get a rather predictable occurrence of events which isn’t really able to break either the emotional or technical threshhold.

Now don’t get me wrong; this doesn’t mean Drive is a poor film. On the contrary, this is one of the best of the year. But that lack of a powerful ending does prevent it from reaching greatness, which it certainly had the potential to be. Nonetheless, this is an amazing exercise of using restraint to increase drama.

2 Responses to “Drive”

  1. You’re right. Great review! Drive knows exactly what it is and what it wants to be!

    glad you enjoyed it. I liked your review here.

  2. Great review, Ian. I completely agree about how there is a constant tension rising throughout the film, I loved that about it. I also loved the photography, it kept reminding me of neon signs, so much colorful contrast against darker images. However, I felt it lacked emotional connection, and I’m afraid that is what made it completely overlooked by the Academy Awards.

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