The concept of Drive seemed simple enough. A Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Something like that isn’t easy to screw up, right? Well, I have the quite the story to tell.
The basic story is about an enigmatic, nameless, Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who earns extra money by moonlighting as a getaway driver for robbers. Later on in the film, one bad job gets him tangled up in a huge web of crime and deceit involving the whole Los Angeles criminal underworld. While the film’s story sounds interesting on paper, it fails in its execution.
The way the story is executed is haphazard. It’s not that it’s told out of sequence. It’s more like it didn’t know it needed to be in a sequence. There are many times when the transitions from one scene to the next are sloppy and disjointed. Things either feel too slow or too fast, thus the film fails to keep a consistent pace.
While it does an okay job in establishing the setting and some of the key characters, it doesn’t really do anything with them. The main character doesn’t even have a name if that’s any indication. There are also some scenes and characters that just come out of nowhere. There’s no build up or any established circumstances that lead up to those scenes or characters. It’s like they took some aspects they liked in other films and just pasted them into the script.
The cinematography is mediocre at best as well. There are some shots that try to be dynamic and artistic while the shots in between those particular shots are just the typical cut and paste shots that you learn in film classes here at the college. Many of the “artistic” shots just come across as pretentious and unnecessary. The film acts as if each artistic shot is vital to the overall story, which half of them aren’t.
The acting in this film is a mixed bag. While some actors like Bryan Cranston do a great job, the lead actor, Gosling, just comes across as robot, either a lifeless drone or a Terminator. I’m not saying that Gosling is as bad as someone like Kevin Costner, but it’s more like there wasn’t a lot to the character to begin with.
Overall, this film feels like a student art film that was suddenly given a story and turned into a Hollywood feature. The characters are established but not developed. The editing and pacing are sloppy and chaotic, and the “artistic” cinematography is pretty much excess fluff to pander to the Academy. It’s as if the makers of this film just wanted a film that was tailored to the superficial tastes of the Academy so that it would be nominated. They put the priority of the visuals ahead of the priority of the story. I give this film the lowest rating I’ve given so far, a 2/5. An art film that should have stayed an art film.