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A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
For more about Drive and the Drive Blu-ray release, see Drive Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 20, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: James Sallis, Hossein Amini
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks
» See full cast & crew
Drive Blu-ray Review
Style to spare.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 20, 2012
Any guy-oriented movie that that emblazons pink titles across its opening shots must be fairly confident in itself. Drive oozes confidence in every fiber of its being. Hello, and welcome, pink titles. The latest from Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) is Drive, a superbly assembled picture that's one of the year's most enthralling, a movie that, yes, is evidently confident with every passing shot, and it's even more stylistically engaging than it is so openly sure of itself. Few movies are as dynamically realized as Drive. From the opening seconds, the picture surrounds its viewers with unflappable visual perfection, the picture's every frame defining the essence of cool. But it's not flashy. Instead, Drive is one of the more unassuming pictures out there, but it is made so exceptionally well, and its story defined by its always-evident cadence and painstakingly exacting visuals, that one cannot help but to become immersed in its very essence, an essence which actually supersedes the fairly routine specifics of the plot. The result is a movie that's not harmed but rather helped by its unflinching dedication to style-as-storytelling. The plot is a basic one of respect, friendship, love, revenge, mafia, money, skill, and thrills, but it's all played within a structure that emphasizes lingering shots and shadows that define motive, shape the story, and tell the tale. It's a minimalist approach, but a welcome and highly successful approach. Drive is the embodiment of cinema that's reliant on confident style rather than the typical visual and aural distractions so easily constructed within the medium that often only mask shortcomings rather than enhance the whole. Drive's approach greatly amplifies cinematic basics, and morphs what likely would had been in lesser hands a throwaway nothing of a movie into one of the most captivating experiences of the past few years.
A ridiculously gifted driver (Ryan Gosling) works as both a mechanic and a Hollywood stunt driver by day, but moonlights as a hired getaway driver who follows strict rules and promises to evade any trouble with the law. He leads a quiet, unassuming life. He keeps largely to himself, only interacting with his trusted boss, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), who enters into deal with a mobster, Bernie (Albert Brooks), to purchase a stock car for The Driver to race. The Driver breaks from his routine when he offers to help a stranded motorist, whom he recognizes as a nearby neighbor from his apartment building. Soon, he finds himself in a friendly relationship with her. She's Irene (Carey Mulligan), a mother caring for her son Benicio (Kaden Leos) while her husband serves his time in prison. Just as their relationship seems to be taking a tun for the romantic, her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison. It turns out that Standard is in quite a bit of trouble with the mob. The Driver chooses to intervene on Standard's behalf for the sake of the woman and child he's grown to love. What follows is unimaginable violence through which The Driver must maneuver and survive if he's to ensure the safety of both Irene and Benicio.
Drive's opening minutes are amongst the finest ever committed to film. It absolutely defines that quiet confidence and sure-handed style that runs through the movie and lets the pacing and smartly-conceptualized visuals tell the story. The opening sequence, and nearly the entire film, is shaped by an undercurrent of intensity that hangs over the picture, even in those moments of contentment and unspoken bonds between The Driver and Irene. Through it all is a heavy sense of terrible anticipation and emotional uneasiness, both of which are ultimately realized, though the film remains as intoxicatingly smooth in its most serene and most violently aggressive moments -- on the road and off -- alike. The entire picture remains true to this same basic structure, never once sacrificing its integrity or abandoning its cadence for a flashier action scene. The car chases are extremely well done, fast and powerful and succinct, defined by the rhythm of the engines, the crashing of the metal, and the squealing of the tires, all becoming those scenes' pulse. Meanwhile, the man-on-man violence comes equally fast and brutal but is never drawn further than is required to move the story along. The picture meshes the extremes of violence and tenderness of burgeoning love -- or at the very least deep respect and deeper friendship -- remarkably well. It's a testament to that uncanny cadence that keeps the movie even no matter what the characters are thinking, what's happening, where the movie is, where it's been, or where it's going. In that way, the movie is at its best both in those quiet moments of serenity and through its most devastatingly brutal action alike. Drive is like a heartbeat, rising and falling but always there, quickly returning to a norm whether following a spurt of movement or a moment of pause.
In a broader sense, the movie's sets and people are relatively plain. The film works through a rather minimalist approach in its production values, too. It's certainly smooth and polished, but absolutely effective despite its absence of flash. Its characters are only minimally developed on the surface, but their actions, glances, and the film's very essence of photography, lighting, and direction fill them out where the script stops. The cast is remarkable, each playing the movie absolutely straight and uncannily finding its natural, unusual rhythm from the opening frame forward. Ryan Gosling sells the part with a reserved and confident exterior but a far more complex interior, which he does not wear on his sleeve but rather on his back, his symbol of scorpion reflecting the very essence of the thematic structure that runs through the movie. With Drive, it seems the script, actors, and dialogue are only secondary necessities, even as perfectly as all fit into the final product. Words never define the movie, which keeps the audience strictly paying attention and unraveling the story for itself rather than taking another spoon feeding of cinematic fluff. The story, of course, is relatively simple and worn out, but Drive makes mafia and money and double crosses and the like darkly alluring rather than generically boring. This is a movie audiences have seen before, but never seen like this. Everything blends together into one harmonious entity, the violence at peace with the serenity, the motion never at odds with the stillness. Drive is a movie to look at as much as it is a movie to watch; it's the way it shapes the story, not the way it tells the story, that's the highlight, and for as simple a turn as that may be from the norm, it makes all the difference in the world between a time waster a timeless reminder of the simplistic beauty that's the other side of the moviemaking coin.
Drive Blu-ray, Video Quality
Drive features a rich and satisfying 1080p Blu-ray transfer. The digital photography translates wonderfully here. There's very light banding and noise to be seen in one or two shots, but the transfer is otherwise extraordinarily pristine. The movie opens in relative darkness, lit sparsely but effectively. Blacks are superb here and elsewhere; shadow detail is strong, and overhead nighttime shots of a city lit only by street lights and the glow of high-rise office building windows truly sparkle and showcase an almost uncanny sense of visual realism. Definition is wonderfully crisp, and clarity is oftentimes breathtaking. Even in shadows and low light, the image reveals impeccable facial and clothing details, not to mention gauges and accents inside the cars. Brighter scenes, of which there were many, sparkle. Not only does detail remain incredibly strong, but color balance proves faultless. The interior of a supermarket that's awash in bright product-pushing shades, the warm interior of a wood-paneled elevator, and the deep blue denim of a shirt are all pure, never straying from a vivid but balanced appearance. Flesh tones, no surprise, are also finely-tuned throughout. No matter its place or time, Drive's Blu-ray transfer remains strong. The digital photography never takes on that glossy, lifeless appearance, the movie instead organic and eye-catching from beginning to end. The sum of the whole is another brilliant Blu-ray outing from Sony.
Drive Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Drive speeds onto Blu-ray with a sonically intense and pure DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Music styles range from soft to raucous, yet the track handles all with precision and clarity. Music accompanying a montage in chapter five plays remarkably smooth and airy, while heavier beats energize the soundstage but remain accurate and true to style. All is spacious and enveloping, which carries over to every other sonic element that shapes the movie. Whether a steady undercurrent of heavy bass -- which only takes a turn for the slightly unkempt at the very bottom -- or whisper-quiet ambience, the track always folds the listener into each and every moment. Even with subtle elements like radio police chatter or the "door ajar" warning chime of a Chevy Impala, there's no shortage of seamless, well-constructed and finely-intetgrated audible elements that round the track into seamless form. High impact sound effects are equally revealing. A helicopter buzzes overhead in an early scene. Car engines rumble, tires squeal, and metal twists in various chase scenes. Gunshots blast out with startling precision that will rattle the listener's nerves. Squishy gore effects sound authentic. Dialogue is steady and center-focused, even if it's sometimes rare. This is another strong, very well constructed lossless soundtrack from Sony.
Drive Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Drive contains five film-specific supplements. Unfortunately, an audio commentary track is not amongst them.
Drive Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Drive is a fine little movie that's quite unlike most pictures dotting the cinematic landscape these days. It's more style than substance, more confident than profit-driven, but this is a rare case where style is so good -- because it's so reserved and so engaging simultaneously -- that it dwarfs substance, which is fairly shallow but that does become more meaningful the further viewers want to dig. Everything in the movie plays in absolute perfect harmony, the entire thing defined by the smoothest, most faultlessly-constructed visuals in recent memory. Sony's Blu-ray release of Drive features high quality video and audio to go along with five substantive extras. Very highly recommended.
Drive: Other Editions
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Drive Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Drive Blu-ray (Updated) - November 12, 2011
In an early announcement to retailers, Sony Pictures has revealed that it will release on Blu-ray Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's (Bronson, Valhalla Rising) Drive (2010), starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. Earlier this year, the film, which was distributed ...
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