|Ryan Gosling in "Drive"|
After an astounding getaway scene which was this movie's opener, pink credits appear in front of the night time LA cityscape taking up the screen and synth-pop beats boom the theater. I liked "Drive" already.
The story didn't do very much for me. It felt very familiar.
We have a 'man with no name'-type who does shady work with a sense of emotionally detached professionalism. In his personal life he seems a bit angelic and meets someone he cares about who will present a conflict with the bad business he is involved in. He unleashes all of his unstoppable potential to protect the innocent. Action ensues.
The involvement I felt was with the characters and their undeniably strong screen presence. The only surprises I felt were during the scenes of sudden graphic violence, which I found kind of amusing, but unfitting for this kind of film.
Style is what impresses here. Like Tarantino's "Death Proof" we have car chases similar to an era when they were well-done. This is well-crafted action that reminds us that less is more. We are in sync with the exhilaration of vehicles in motion and not the quick cutting chaos that plagues action cinema today.
See Chaos Cinema 1 & 2.
Perhaps the best aspect of "Drive" is that it is an auditory experience reminiscent of David Lynch films. Scenes featuring the nameless main character are very light on words and strong on atmosphere and hypnotic white noise. The synth-pop selections and the ambient score by Cliff Martinez add to the effect of an other-worldly tone.
In general, I think what we have here is a really high quality B-Movie. It's a story of obligatory coincidences and cheap thrills assisted by thoughtful direction, stylish medium-budget production, and a GREAT cast.
Check out a much better review by Scott Tobias.