First Clincal Cynic movie review: Drive

I just finished watching Drive staring Ryan Gosling.  I went into it thinking that it couldn’t be better than average… after all, a film about a get-away driver doesn’t sound very interesting to me.  I watched it purely out of nothing else to watch and after hearing some references to Michael Mann.

The first quarter of the movie, maybe less, has some elements often used by Michael Mann; you have instrumental music used in an ambient fashion to accent what is being played out on the screen and also the use of pastel colors in the beginning – a la Miami Vice.  This is the extent of the Michael Mann feel and it goes no further.  The film is by far the best offering from director Nicolas Winding Refn; by examining his history behind the lens there is a string of bad to less than average movies.  Driver definitely falls into the above average category in my book and, while this may sound harsh, it is above average despite its borrowing from others.  The film lies more in the David Lynch realm in my opinion… but it is the other elements that keep it grounded [and in fact kept my attention as I firmly believe Lynch to be over-hyped]; the borrowing of elements from both Mann and, more predominantly, Lynch, along with concocting a feel at times that movies such as True Romance effect all work together to put this title decently above a bar set low these days.

There is some fantastic Lynch-ian awkward moments amongst the characters; such as a scene were Gosling stands before his victim on a beach reminiscent of some of the most popular horror film villains such as Jason from Friday the 13th… contorted and twisted, yet in this story, he is the hero.

My chief complaint regarding this movie is the choice of music together with the annoying trend of using one of the worst songs I’ve had the misfortune of hearing over and over.  I am referring to the song “A Real Hero” by a band(?) called College (featuring Electric Youth).  I am not speaking of the ambient music I mentioned above…  if you dare, hit “play” on the video below to experience this horrid song first-hand:

So, aside from the awful choice of a soundtrack, I do encourage this as a rental as well as a visit to the theater if you do that sort of thing [I don’t].  It is also nice to see Brian Cranston on the big screen… hopefully since I am going to be denied the splendor that is Breaking Bad, due to AMC’s bad decision, we will see more of him on the big screen.  Ryan Gosling’s performance fit the bill; I am by no means a Gosling fan but that Lynch-ian awkwardness I spoke earlier of worked well with him.  Ron Perlman is Ron Perlman… you know what you’re getting by seeing his name on the list.  Albert Brooks plays a great “villain” that definitely reminds me of the sort of villain in films such as True Romance.

So in summary:  Go see it.  There isn’t much out there to contend with it anyways.  If I was sitting on Ebert’s couch it would get a thumbs-up from me.  On a scale of 1-10 I would place it at a solid 7.5 [that song “A Real Hero” detracted .5 points from my total score].

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