By Cameron Schneberder
From its playful pink font and poppy electronica soundtrack tinged with synths, Drive’s primary mission is to overwhelm its viewers with its sense of style. Ryan Gosling stars as a stunt driver and mechanic by day, getaway driver for hire by night. This monotonous cycle is broken with his discovery of his cute-as-a-button neighbor and love interest, Irene (Carey Mulligan), who captures Gosling’s heart, as well as indirectly trusts the dangerous attention of the Mob on him with help from her recently paroled husband (Oscar Issac). While another director might use this concept to create an uninspired blockbuster, director Nicolas Winding Refn takes advantage Hossien Amini’s minimalist adapted screenplay and handfuls of Tarantino and Lynch influences to stitch together a violent noir.
The movie tricks viewers with it’s uncharacteristically tame first half, establishing an almost fairytale-esc love Gosling’s character feels for Irene as Goslings motivation for a ramped up second half. Once the suspense evaporates and Refn’s signature hyper violence enters the picture, the movie becomes wildly unpredictable, with killings becoming as common and handshakes and blood gushing in comically large proportions. In Refn’s Los Angeles, violence is the only action that carries any definitive weight. A romantic slow-motion kiss means nothing if it can easily be overshadowed by a graphic head-bursting stomp fifteen seconds later. When last buckets of blood are spilled it can be hard to remember if you just watched a noirish pulpy romance, or a sequence of stylish deaths and depending on which way you interpret it, will ultimately dictate whether you will enjoy Drive or not. Drive is a movie that certainly should be enjoyed, if not for it’s style, but also for the it’s creativity and ambition in the way it presents it’s gritty story of heroism in contrast to a slue of derivative action movies bookending it’s release.