Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Drive" Really Takes You Places

By Alex "The Savant" Heisman
The Savant's Rating: 4/5 Stars

Copyright 2011

 Anyone who knows me can attest that one of my favorite things to say after a crazy situation is the name of the crazy-in-its-own-right O.A.R. song, “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker.” After heading out to the theater to see Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s new movie "Drive", I couldn’t help but loudly exclaim that what I had just experienced was the craziest game of poker yet!

The Driver (Ryan Gosling) runs stunt car chases for the movies by day and moonlights as a getaway driver for robbers in actual car chases by night. This sullen hero eventually falls in love with his next-door neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband (Oscar Isaac) has just been released from prison. Needless to say, Irene’s husband gets mixed up in criminal activities once more and needs the Drivers help. After the Driver becomes involved the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan and he has to extricate himself from some sticky situations while being chased by ruthless gangsters (Ron Perlman and a stellar Albert Brooks). Also present are the Driver’s fatherly friend and garage owner (the seemingly everywhere Bryan Cranston…seriously wasn’t he just in Contagion which we reviewed last week) and extended cameos from Christina Hendricks and Russ Tamblyn (which provides a special trip down memory lane as Paul and I starred in West Side Story once, while Tamblyn cleverly played Riff in the movie version).

The movie pleasantly surprised me but buyer beware, this is not for the squeamish. The highly intense violence sneaks up on the viewer in such a way that there have been reports of sick individuals and even a few walk-outs from those who weren’t expecting this level of intensity.

Special mention MUST be paid to the man-of-the-hour Albert Brooks. Brooks, known predominantly as a hilarious comedian, delivers his first live-action performance in eight years as a brutal and merciless gangster. It is a complete change of pace from the slightly neurotic characters he usually plays, and for the few scenes he is on screen you cannot take your eyes off him…just be sure to keep all blades away from his dirtied hands. In terms of Oscar chances, calling it now, expect Albert Brooks to earn his well-deserved second nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category…he’s really THAT good.

All in all, if you can handle intensity at the movies, I’d recommend this be your next choice to see. It is a beautifully shot and put together movie that will get your brains working and stomachs churning. But just remember, and so sorry O.A.R., when you’re sitting there reflecting on what just happened, calm yourself down by repeating that it’s not real and was only a crazy game of poker.


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