Friday, June 17, 2011

Feeling the 'Drive' To Survive

Premiering at the L.A. Film Festival
June 17, 2011.

In "Drive," the new film by Danish-born director Nicolas Winding Refn, Ryan Gosling channels Steve McQueen's turbo-charged antics from films like "Bullet" and "The Getaway." In fact, McQueen would have been a shoo-in to play the hero, here known simply as "Driver," if the movie was filmed 40 years earlier.
There's a fair amount of burning rubber, screeching tires and gunshots -- not to mention copious amounts of blood spilled in sometimes rather gruesome fashion.
The story centers on Gosling's character, an L.A. movie stunt driver who races and flips over muscle cars as cameras roll and catch the action. At night he pursues another, but not entirely different, vocation. He's a getaway driver for stick-up artists.
A crush develops between him and his next door neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). Trouble is, she's married. But she's got a little boy, and he and Driver bond.
Difficulties start when Driver takes on another crime assignment. This time he thinks he's going to help save Irene's husband from harm, but things don't go well, to say the least.
Among the cast are Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, who play wonderfully sleazy crime partners, and Bryan Cranston, of AMC's "Breaking Bad," who nicely inhabits the role of Driver's employer and sidekick, Shannon. He's got a dark past of his own. Christina Hendricks, of AMC's "Mad Men," makes an all-too-short appearance as Blanche, the woman who knows more than she's telling.
"Drive" lacks the richly detailed inner turmoil we sense in other recent crime thrillers, such as that between the deeply conflicted brothers-turned-robbers in Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." But for those who take their crime films with a large dose of action, that might be a good thing. "Drive" floors the accelerator -- liberally. Go for the adrenaline rush and buckle up.

--Paul Parcellin

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