Movie Review – Drive

“Wanna tooth-pick?”
Yesterday, I decided on a whim to go see a movie; which one was yet to be determined. The contenders were “Contagion,” “Straw Dogs,” and “Drive.” Here, in short, is the case for each as it was in my head.
“Contagion is killing the box office, has Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law. It seems dystopic and paranoid and relevant.”
“Straw Dogs. Alexander Skarsgard. Great actor, stuck in crappy things. Maybe not this time?”
“Drive has Carey Mulligan who is the most precious thing ever. I’ve liked Ryan Gosling since his ‘Young Hercules’ days, but The Notebook kind of ruined him for me. But reviews have been glowing.”
Ultimately I asked my movie critic friend, who informed me that ‘Contagion’ just makes you want to wash your hands, and that ‘Drive’ was my best choice. Trusting him, I went to the theater immediately.
I was not disappointed. I’ll try to summarize without giving away spoilers.
Ryan Gosling is an unnamed stunt driver/mechanic by day and getaway driver by night. He leads a relatively simple life however, seemingly without friends, family, or frivolity. He speaks seldom, and gets to the point when he does. All this changes when he meets Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio. The two share an instant attraction and soon begin seeing each other – though this appears to mean hanging out with her son and driving around at night. Everything is going great, until Irene gets a call that her husband Standard is getting out of prison. From here, the movie abruptly shifts gears (see what I did there?) into an intense, action-packed thriller that left me on the edge of my seat until the last second. Without giving too much away, I’ll tell you that Standard needs to pay back some thugs with Ryan Gosling and Christina Hendricks’ help, but things are much more complicated than they seem.
Above all, Gosling really impressed me. Blew me away, actually. As I said earlier, The Notebook ruined him for me. Not because he was bad in that movie – he wasn’t. That movie is just emotional pornography that makes me really angry. The only reason I sill like Rachel McAdams is because, well, a) have you SEEN HER and b) she’s been in several diverse movies I really enjoy and showcased a reasonably wide range.
Anyway, back to him. For the first part of the movie, he channels this… boyishness… that was incredibly endearing. I’m not talking about the Seth Rogen Hollywood man-child bull that we’ve been force-fed the last several years; there’s nothing immature here. But somehow, despite his apparently dark past and less-than-legal job, he maintains this innocence that allows him to connect deeply with a child. Like I said, super endearing. And then, almost without warning, he’s curb-stomping the bejeezus out of some hit man. He goes from zero to sixty (see what I did there?) in no time at all – yet it’s totally believable. It’s easy to imagine him as a guy with a really shady past who did everything he could to escape it, and is now living his life trying to atone/cope/forget. Quite simply, he’s amazing and I cannot get over it.
Carey Mulligan is engaging as well. I mean, how can you not be brought in by her big eyes and huge dimples? But she’s not just this waif-like little pixie. She’s totally believable as a (basically) single mom who got knocked up young but is making the best of her life. 
You’ve also got Bryan Cranston (who has officially moved in my mind from “Hal from Malcolm in the Middle” to “Walt from Breaking Bad. I am totally OK with this). He plays this strange kind of hybrid of the two characters, who is friendly like Hal but criminal like Walt. He’s sort of the father figure to Gosling. 
What else? Oh. I liked that when Standard got out of prison, he wasn’t this like hardened criminal, nor was he some kind of wife-beater. He seemed like a pretty genuinely nice guy who wanted to do better. And I like that there was tension between him and Gosling without it being really obvious and in our faces. It was pretty subtle. Which is always better.
I hated the villain, Nino, but then again I was supposed to. But he was loud and gross and foul and it was never not jarring. There was something… big… about him. And if you don’t know what that means, watch the episode of The O.C. where Summer gets a replacement-Seth while he is dating Anna. Or, alternatively, watch almost any Jim Carrey movie.
The soundtrack was also jarring. It was LOUD. And I don’t know why it was so 80s. I really don’t. I know there must have been a reason, because the movie’s font is equally 80s. But I don’t know the reason. Someone explain this to me. 
Neither of those are really complaints, they were just parts that I found less enjoyable than the rest of the movie. 
Snap Judgement: See this movie. See it now. There’s amazing acting from multiple sources. There’s a great cast, an engaging plot with an emotional core, and some sweet action. Be forewarned: there’s definitely language, and gore, and some boobage. So if you can’t handle those things, go see Lion King in 3D [SIDEBAR DON’T SEE LION KING IN 3D. We need to take a stand against useless 3D and the exploitation of our childhoods just to make a quick buck!]. 
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