By Elkay Takhel
Men have always been fascinated by thrilling car chase sequences. Especially in the olden days when CGI meant getting the stunt driver’s face blown up instead of the lead actor’s, who’s doing the fake driving. Nowadays, magicians with a keyboard and a mouse have covered almost everything up, and that includes the “action” hero’s pimples. The movie this week is a trip to the glory-days of the car-driven films.
“The Driver” is the lead character of the film, and with no name. He is the silent, no-nonsense guy of very few words that no one messes with; but yes, one with a good heart, aren’t we all.
The movie starts with the Driver’s nightime job- that of a wheelman what with his skill behind the wheel and his cunning use of the terrain to make good of his and his temporary associates’ escape. He is all business and not one to kid with when it comes to his work, and that includes his daytime job also as a guy behind the wheels, this time as a stunt driver in movies. And he does what he does best in both the jobs- Drive.
No effort is taken to explain who the Driver is and why he does the things and the way he does them, and none is needed.
Carey Mulligan in her role as Irene is the love interest of the lead character. She is the exact opposite of the Driver. She is the calm, loving and very grounded mother of a young boy with her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaacs), in prison. Then one day Standard comes home, just when things had started to take a different turn in her life. And with him, Standard brings along his hare of problems and troubles that one day extends to his family. The Driver who’d started caring for Irene and her son decides to help straighten things out for their family. And this is where he gets embroiled in the mess of things.
Well, the story is not that unique, in the sense that many might find similarities between this and some movies, old and new. What makes this movie unique and gripping is the way it’s presented, its different and unique mix of characters. We are told of a story where we are introduced to the fears and aspirations of everyone, the villains included which makes everyone seem more human, an odd combination in an action film, if you ask me. But the Powers That Be somehow makes it work and work well at that.
Ryan Gosling as The Driver has come a long way from his days as the lovesick character in “The Notebook”(which I had the misfortune of a one-time watch. Sad) He’s moved through an array of different well-written and masterfully portrayed characters in “The Ides of March,” “Blue Valentine,” “Half Nelson” and even “Crazy,Stupid,Love.” And with “Drive” he adds another major feather to his well-adorned cap. He carries off the role of the Driver with such ease that it all seems so effortless and almost second nature for him to be in the driver’s seat. And Carey Mulligan as the unfortunate wife, the unlucky romantic angle and the caring mother is also convincing and does the role justice even though there is not enough screen-time allotted to her pretty face.
As for the supporting cast, most of them are familiar face, veterans of many movies that we’ve seen and liked. And they add and support in making the film what it is. Like I said before, the story though nice, takes a backseat while the characters do the driving. The director does a very good job with the presentation, the execution of the story and with all the action, the thrilling car sequences that seem so real that you almost feel every turn and bumps on the road, all in all a job very well done.
Some viewers might find the movie stretched out and a bit longer than necessary if they go in expecting an all-out action serving. The explosions and gunfights are hard to come by in this flick. What will get you, though, is the sense of viewing a real car chase and feel the roar of the engines as it guns through the screen.
Catch this movie, if you already haven’t for a ride that you truly deserve. So till next time, keep your engines revved up and your tanks full. Drive Safe (especially with the condition of Ima-leibak’s roads and its pot-holes).