Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a driver. Because that’s how he’s listed in the credits. And it’s his role. The movie is clever like that.
Driver drives for people who need him for whatever driving purposes they want to hire a no questions asked kind of driver. At the beginning of the movie, he drives a couple of ski-mask wearing men who break into a building and apparently steal a couple of bags of garbage. He then successfully evades the police, who seem like they’re just “phoning it in.” They don’t put up much of a chase. Which displays his driving prowess as he hides under a bridge.
Driver befriends his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), -yes, that’s his name- is in prison. Driver and Irene, who have apparently never met before, despite living two doors apart on the same floor of their apartment building, start getting close. Which is, of course, when she finds out Standard will be coming home in a week.
Driver works in Shannon’s (Bryan Cranston) garage. Shannon had his pelvis broken by Nino (Ron Perlman) because Nino is a gangster Shannon was overcharging. And we’ll throw Shannon’s friend/Nino’s business associate, Bernie (Albert Brooks) into the picture so you have all the players.
Standard owes some guys from prison protection money from when he was in the joint. They “persuade” him to rob a pawn shop to repay his debt. Driver doesn’t want to see anything happen to his new friends, Irene and Benicio, so he offers to drive Standard during the job. (You know, it’s what he does, or so we saw in the opening sequence and never again.) Blanche (Christina Hendricks), an associate of the guy Standard has to pay goes along to help with the robbery. This is when everything falls apart.
Starting from the hot pink, pseudo-script lettering of all the credits, to the music, to the scorpion jacket, this movie looks like it was made in the 80s. Not in a “Hey, remember the 80s?” kind of way. Or a kitschy way. In a “Hey, this movie looks like it was made in the 80s” kind of way. It could work. But it really doesn’t. There seems to be no point to it.
There is a lot of driving in this movie. As one would expect from a movie titled Drive. But it’s a lot of leisurely cruising about town while looking at Ryan Gosling’s profile. There are no high-speed chases. No daring getaways.
What there is not a lot of is dialogue. To make up for the lack of conversation, they put in a lot of staring. Driver stares at Irene. Who stares at Driver. Then Driver stares at Benicio. Then Benicio stares at Driver. Then Driver stares at Bernie. And Bernie stares at the guy with the fork in his eye. Staring is not a mechanism by which one moves the plot along. All future filmmakers, please take note of this.
I do have to say, this is one of the more gory “action” movies I’ve seen in a while. This can be used to move the plot along. You see, the movie gets off to a very slow start. Especially for a movie about driving. I was hoping when the gory “action” started, it would speed things up. I’m still waiting for the action to speed up. And I’ve been home for an hour.
In case you’re getting the wrong idea, don’t go see this movie. There is no point. You will especially hate it if you’re used to going to preview screenings, and you actually have to pay to see it. And, again for all future filmmakers, if you’re going to put Ryan Gosling in a movie, he should take his shirt off at least once. He’s worked hard to make all us other men look and feel inadequate. He deserves it.