Friday, September 16, 2011


MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (O) Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars) Fr. Dennis (3 Stars though the violence is excessive and actually detracts from the story)

IMBb Listing -
CNS/USCCB Review -
Roger Ebert's Review -

Drive (directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, screenplay by Hossein Amini based on the book by James Sallis) is IMHO a needlessly violent contemporary noir flick set in Los Angeles.  Ryan Gosling plays an anonymous driver of very few words, so few in fact, that we never learn his name.  He works in a garage owned by Shannon (played by Bryan Cranston) who finds him occasional gigs stunt driving for Hollywood (and driving get-away cars for various local thieves).  He's _good_.  He knows not only how to drive fast, he knows how to drive smart.  In an early sequence in the movie, he manages to lose a pursuing LAPD helicopter by ditching under an underpass, totally changing his tempo and then leaving calmly in a completely different direction.

Shannon has big plans for him.  He brings in a couple of other guys, Bernie Rose (played by Albert Brooks) along with Bernie's business partner, a tough, named Nino (played by Ron Perlman) to help bankroll his dream -- of buying a stock car to be driven by none other than our fast/smart driving hero.

But alas it's not to be.  Our quiet man of few words falls for a neighbor Irene (played by Carey Mulligan) and her 8-10 year old son Benicio (played by Kaden Leos).  Her husband, Standard (played by Oscar Isaac), was serving time in jail.  When her husband is released, needless to say this produces some awkwardness between them.  However, when our hero finds Standard beat-up in the garage of their apartment complex one afternoon, our hero decides to help him.  Standard's being extorted by thugs who belong to the same gang that were extorting him while he was in prison.  They want to be paid off.  So our hero decides to help Standard do _one_ stickup job of a pawnshop that Standard is promised would pay-off his debt to this gang forever.

Instead the stickup job goes _horribly wrong_ and leads to a chain of events in which only the truly innocent in this story are left standing at its end.

In classic film noir fashion, it's not necessarily that the bad guys in this story are completely evil, but they are definitely fallen.  We encounter a gangster in this movie who tries at least to be an honest gangster.  He kills his victims, often brutally, but at least he does try to minimize their pain.  At the end of the movie, he tells the driver - "Just hand me over the money and your girl lives.  No one left knows about her except you and me.  She'll never even know what happened.  But I can't make the same promise for you.  Whatever dreams, hopes or plans you may have had, put them aside.  You'll spend the rest of your life looking over your back."

Again, I do believe that the violence depicted in the second half of this movie was unnecessary.  The same point could have been made leaving much more to the imagination.  I would even add that the violence depicted actually detracted from the story (something that I believe even Quentin Tarentino has learned over the years).

Still that line by the "honest" if fallen gangster is worth repeating and may have some deterrent value in perhaps saving some young person from doing something really stupid like the driver character in this movie.

Because if you do take a walk on the dark side, you'll _never know_ when your luck will run out, what lurking unspeakable evil you may disturb, what chain of events you may inadvertently set into motion or how many others may ultimately suffer for your transgression.  We may think we are smart, but this bit of wisdom has been with us since the Fall: Evil is generally smarter.

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>


  1. I find it amazing to see myself corrupted into thinking this thief is a good guy and that one is bad. Great performance by Gosling, the quieter he was, the better he came across. Also, I might say it's so strange to see Albert Brooks in such a role, and it was interesting to see how he developed his innocent and childlike stock car-loving character to something much less innocent. Although I agree with you that some of the violence at the end was gratuitous and did indeed detract from the story, I overall loved the film.

  2. Thanks Dr. Mack for your insightful comments! Yes, I thought this movie was very well done as well and thought Albert Brooks deserved a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance. Take care / God bless!