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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Ryan Gosling
Carey Mulligan
Christina Hendricks
Ron Perlman.
Directors
Nicolas Winding Refn.
Screenwriters
Hossein Amini.
Running Time
100 minutes

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Drive
GTA from the director of Bronson


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Plot
By day, ‘Driver’ (Gosling) is a Hollywood stunt man, but by night he makes his real money in the criminal underworld as a top-flight getaway driver. When pretty but very married next-door neighbour Irene (Mulligan) is menaced by hoods, he steps in to protect her and her little boy, only to find himself in an escalating conflict between the local thugs and the Mafia.


Review
Drive
Browse more images »
Alan Ladd's 1953 classic Western Shane is a tale of a man who, trying to escape his past, turns up at a homestead and, in trying to save a woman and her child from black-hats, finds himself drawn inexorably back into the violence he has tried to escape. Drive is very much like Shane, in that it has a strong, silent hero, determined to do right by the innocent while struggling against his character which, as Heraclitus so pithily put it, is also his fate. But it also has a sequence of a man having his cranium reduced to a bloody pulp by an enthusiastically deployed boot à la Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible, someone gets a fork shoved in their face, and a good portion of it is shot in slow motion. It is therefore that much better.

Nicolas Winding Refn, a Danish director best known for the Pusher trilogy and 2008’s thug-opic Bronson, is proof of the fact that American pulp is sometimes much better done by Europeans. Think of Paul Verhoeven’s mischievous satires RoboCop and Starship Troopers. Here Refn delivers a gripping, gritty neo-noir drenched in so much mid-’80s styling that the only thing that seems to be missing is Simon Bates thanking us for listening and exhorting us to enjoy the film.

Refn’s skills are not limited to artfully conceived bloodletting: an opening sequence in which our hero practises his trade, transporting a pair of thieves from their place of business to safety, dodging, parking and reversing, is a masterclass of cutting in which the precision of the editing matches that of the driving (and actually it’s far more exciting than the more conventional car chase later in the movie). Meanwhile Newton Thomas Sigel’s sheeny cinematography delivers gorgeous chopper shots of the neon-flecked night-time streets of LA and moody renderings of asphalt car parks, race-tracks and diners. The cumulative and exhilarating sensation is that Walter Hill or William Friedkin made an urban noir sometime back in 1986 and somehow you missed it (and it’s easily as good as The Driver or To Live And Die In LA).

And Refn’s good taste extends to the casting. Carey Mulligan might not have a lot to do, but she looks believably vulnerable; Albert Brooks proves that actors more familiar with comedy can often turn on their menacing side to great effect (it’s he who gets to stick a fork in a guy’s face), while Ron Perlman, well, as usual Ron Perlman just has to turn up, really.

And then there’s Ryan Gosling. Starmaking roles are as rare as actual stars these days, but this just might be one. Gosling pushes the strong, silent (exceptionally pretty) type almost, but only almost, to parody. Toothpick permanently wedged between his teeth (an obvious nod to Clint Eastwood’s ’60s cheroot, and indeed, the ‘no-name hero’ and vengeance fantasy plot reinforce the feeling that this might be as much Western as thriller), he channels the glacially imperturbable attitude of Steve McQueen. He even manages to make what looks like a quilted jacket sporting a yellow scorpion emblazoned on the back — a nod either to Kenneth Anger’s cult 1964 short Scorpio Rising or the fable of The Scorpion And The Frog, depending on who you believe — look like something you might want to check out on your next visit to Topman. An actor hasn’t looked this cool in rubbish duds since Brad Pitt in that teapot dressing-gown in Fight Club. But Drive’s primary pleasure is its astonishingly realised retro style: it’s as if someone distilled a tincture of the ’80s, all cocaine attitude and Giorgio Moroder, and mainlined it into something like the present. Top Gear, then.


Verdict
Oh alright, it ain’t Shane. But it is about as much shamelessly disreputable, stylish, ultra-violent fun you’re going to have at the movies this year.


Reviewed by Adam Smith

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Drive
Empire Star Rating

RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

I don't get it! I don't get the love ... More

Posted by S. C. Lee at 00:19, 16 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

Beautiful, brutual, disturbing, touching, engaging. The list goes on really, by far the best film I've seen so far this year. Oh and I think I'm in love with Carey Mulligan. Awesome soundtrack as well. 5/5 ... More

Posted by Goodfella at 20:23, 14 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

I thought this was a great movie - but I wish I could say "it was great from start to finish". I say that becase I was as dissapointed as hell with the ending. Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Brian Cranston, Ron Perlman and Albert Brookes were all superb. It had a great "feel" to it owing mainly to the understated performances of all involved (especially by Gosling) and the soundtrack, which although was a bit cheesy at times, made me feel like something was coming - was going to happen, and... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lukeyboy at 12:26, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

eome piece of film making, watched yesterday on blu-ray and there are not the words to describe how brilliant, emotional, impactual, beautiful, hipnotic this film and it's journey truly is. t="trebuchet ms"] title sequence alone with minimal dialogue (if any) conveys the elegance of what will come. Gosling is simply out of this world, half man, half wrecking machine on a trajectory that no one will steer him from, along the way he finds love and a meaning to add to his life and Cary Mulligan,... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JIm R at 11:21, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

Criminally overlooked at the BAFTA's today. Yes, The Artist is very good BAFTA, but Drive was THE film of 2011. Why can't this superb movie get the recognition it deserves?! Maybe the Empire awards will go someway to putting this right... ... More

Posted by film man aidy at 23:25, 12 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

^ What he said. ... More

Posted by Jackie Boy at 23:04, 11 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

^ What he said. ... More

Posted by Jackie Boy at 23:03, 11 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

Massively average genre flick that really, /i] wants to be Michael Mann's er ... More

Posted by gunstar at 21:02, 11 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

L: jrewing1000 This is fast becoming one of my favourite films of all time. I've watched it twice at home now, (once in the cinema - twice on DVD) and it just keeps getting better. Now I know what the film involves and where it is going, I can fully enjoy the ride. Boy what a ride.ust so damn cool!] Cool is indeed the word For something that, on paper, should be total cheese (80s look and synthy soundtrack, that jacket, driving gloves, boy-meets-girl story, getaway drives, long ... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 09:07, 10 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brutal, beautiful, brilliant.

This is fast becoming one of my favourite films of all time. I've watched it twice at home now, (once in the cinema - twice on DVD) and it just keeps getting better. Now I know what the film involves and where it is going, I can fully enjoy the ride. Boy what a ride. It's just so damn cool! ... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 22:47, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

L: Keyser Sozzled Watched this last night. I am still on the fence somewhat. I'm between good and very good. First the aesthetic, for me it was perfect in every way. Let's get that out of the way, cinematography, lighting, stylistic preferences and soundtrack all note perfect in every possible way. The performances, for me I thought Carey Mulligan was (on the basis of performance as ratio to actual character) the standout. She has little to do buts brings a vulnerability and... More

Posted by UTB at 14:17, 09 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

Wow, this was a remarkable film - I had read so many positive things online, yet so many people I know outside of internet land who'd seen it said it was shite... boring, and they'd expected more. I have to be honest, the first three quartrers of the film are just breathtaking. I felt I was watching a great movie from the outset. I was in no hurry, and happy to go along with the long silences and soak up Ryan Gosling, who manages an amazing performance without saying much; it's all in th... More

Posted by Drone at 23:01, 03 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

L: theoriginalcynic Empire called Drive the best film of last year. Although I enjoyed it the ending was ludicrous. And it was far too slow (in my opinion.) I'm glad I rent films these days :) Spoilers. There's no way he would have gone to meet the gangster (at the end.) He wouldn't have left the money behind. He wouldn't have stomped the guy dead in the lift (in the way he did.) He hardly spoke which was so annoying. Two stars, maybe two and a half. sp; Seen much film noir have y... More

Posted by JohnChard at 14:37, 03 February 2012 | Report This Post


Everyone say hi to 'Turd Ferguson'

So Empire bloused this initial review with 4 stars, and then played catch up with a 5 star DVD review . . . although the site only gives the 4 star one. Karma for an initial review that seemed to have given the film a cursory glance before reviewing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sambora at 22:10, 01 February 2012 | Report This Post


Most excellent! Slow burn with terrific performances. A must see! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Turd Ferguson at 14:31, 01 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

I fucking loved this film ! ... More

Posted by Dirk Miggler at 21:32, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

Empire called Drive the best film of last year. Although I enjoyed it the ending was ludicrous. And it was far too slow (in my opinion.) I'm glad I rent films these days :) Spoilers. There's no way he would have gone to meet the gangster (at the end.) He wouldn't have left the money behind. He wouldn't have stomped the guy dead in the lift (in the way he did.) He hardly spoke which was so annoying. Two stars, maybe two and a half. ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 18:51, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

L: Keyser Sozzled Watched this last night. I am still on the fence somewhat. I'm between good and very good. Now, Ryan Gosling. Yikes. performance. For some reason it reminded my of Bowie in the Man who fell to Earth. He is there, but not there. abits the places, he exists but doesn't live. He is just so nocturnal. The most fitting tribute to his performance is that he was overlooked at the Oscars. It will go down and one of the bigger mistakes in recent years. 4/5 hat a f... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 15:26, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

L: Keyser Sozzled Watched this last night. I am still on the fence somewhat. I'm between good and very good. First the aesthetic, for me it was perfect in every way. Let's get that out of the way, cinematography, lighting, stylistic preferences and soundtrack all note perfect in every possible way. The performances, for me I thought Carey Mulligan was (on the basis of performance as ratio to actual character) the standout. She has little to do buts brings a vulnerability and... More

Posted by shool at 12:45, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

double post ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 12:41, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

double post ... More

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 12:41, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

double post ... More

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 12:41, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

Watched this last night. I am still on the fence somewhat. I'm between good and very good. First the aesthetic, for me it was perfect in every way. Let's get that out of the way, cinematography, lighting, stylistic preferences and soundtrack all note perfect in every possible way. The performances, for me I thought Carey Mulligan was (on the basis of performance as ratio to actual character) the standout. She has little to do buts brings a vulnerability and an honest but by hollywood... More

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 12:41, 31 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best film of 2011 (although I haven't seen Warrior yet)

This is no Fast and Furious action/road film,no this is a slow burner,yet gripping 80's style heist thriller,that in it's first half,borrows heavily from Michael Mann's visual display in Heat.And that super cool cinematography and atmosphere,is helped by one hell of a 80s inspired synthesizer haunting soundtrack.But by the second half we feel we are watching a Gasper Noe film with it's hardcore ultra violence,which is done in some scenes in chillingly slow mo,and gives it a very realistic... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by evil bill at 18:35, 27 January 2012 | Report This Post


Unique.

Tedious at the start, but boy o boy does it get better. The best movie of 2011 without a doubt. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by asda24995 at 14:42, 24 January 2012 | Report This Post


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