A few months ago, say back in the September and October time frame, a few of my friends had come down from L.A. to visit me here in San Diego. For about a week leading up to that I had seen them talking on their Twitter and Facebook feeds about something called Drive.
All I knew initially was that is stared Ryan Gosling and was apparently very, very good and while that was great and all I really didn’t know if I wanted to spend the $9 to see it. I watched a trailer on the Internet, and it, too, was very good and made me want to see the movie but once again it failed to make me need to run out and see it right then and there.
Enter Chris and Ryan. Driving around San Diego, they start gushing over it in the back seat of my little Honda. I say that I watched the trailer, thought it looked pretty good but I think I’ll just wait till it comes out on DVD. And then Chris said “Paul, I think you of all people would love that movie. It’s a modern day detective movie. But even more so, it’s a superhero movie. He has a uniform and thirsts for love and justice.”
Now I was hooked.
I feel like before I go any further I should warn you: There may be thpoilerth (Spoilers!) about, and if you haven’t seen this movie yet, do yourself a favor and stop right here. Just stop reading and go watch it. If you’re not entranced by the end of the film, then not only will this post hold nothing for you, you are an empty wretch. A hollow, chocolate-bunny shell melting in the sun, slowly showing you for what you really are. Empty calories with no substance.
And you are stupid. Just sayin’.
OK, for those of you still with us, first of all: The cast in this movie is amazing. Up front you got Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks. Sprinkle in some Ron Perlman and Christina Hendricks and this whole affair is about to get hot. Ryan Gosling starts out as his usual soft-spoken, shy self, only to turn into this near-silent blood machine bent on stomping in the heads of any gangster foolish enough to ride in an elevator with him. Albert Brooks. ALBERT BROOKS.
If you don’t like car movies, this is more of a movie-with-cars sort of affair. Vin Diesel doesn’t make any cameos, and they never make it to Japan by drifting across the ocean in a 5000 mile death race. But if they are looking to make a sequel, I just laid some rock solid groundwork. Cars are awesome in this film and the things that happen while Ryan Gosling is in a car are even more so. If you understand that cars are fast, and that when they are going fast there is a massive potential for them to barrel-roll through air or a human being, then you are more than enough of a car expert to understand what is going on.
One thing that really turned some people off to the movie was the violence. Now, I knew about it going in and honestly it wouldn’t have bothered me had I not know, because I am me and watching Christina Hendricks get her head blown off in slow motion is something I never thought I would get to see. Not because I hate Christina Hendricks, but because I can’t imagine someone who would go, “Oh, she’s so pretty! I wonder what she would look like WITHOUT A GODDAMN FACE.”
This movie is gory and it’s about as violent as any major ’90s steroid-injected comic where some angst-ridden body builder with a fetish for leather and postapocalyptic landscapes goes from city to city serving up justice in the most over the top way imaginable. The lengths Drive goes to not gross you out but to not hide anything was something I loved, but maybe that’s not your thing. Maybe you came for Gosling. I can’t fault you for that.
It was a good movie all on its own. But the whole time I was watching, I was trying to make the superhero connection. That was the comment that got me into the theater, that was made me go from liking to see the movie to needing to see it. Gosling’s character has his physical abilities: his uncanny driving, his danger sense, his fighting. He only puts on his scorpion jacket when he is going to go on a job, when it’s business time. His gloves when he is about to get behind the wheel or beat some ass. They even have these little suit up shots with him just putting these items on, they focus on it. He fights the mob and protects a family, puts his own feelings aside to help another, he does it all.
When the movie came out on DVD I went out and bought it immediately. The story was awesome, a dark superhero/detective story set in L.A. that was more on the dirty side of things. It feels stripped down, filmed in real poor neighborhoods in L.A., not some Hollywood back lot made to look like one. The movie feels like it could have happened or like it still could. It’s crazy, sure, but very subtly so and I think that may be what I loved about the movie most.
Want to see Ryan Gosling punch someone, but prefer to skip the blood and death parts? Check out Crazy, Stupid, Love.
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