Nicolas Refn doesn’t spare a minute to get you in the midst of all action. Drive begins with one of the greatest opening scenes I have ever seen. It make crystal clear the nature of Driver and his job. The Driver’s name is never mentioned throughout the movie, and as we come to know as the movie progresses, with due reason. He is an enigma cloaked in a mystery.
First of all, I am going to talk about this movie as more of an anatomy of it rather than a review, therefore apologies if it seems plodding. So, the movie begins with a brilliant opening scene as I said before. And the reason why I call it brilliant is because of the atmosphere it generates. If you have been around for a long time here, you might know that I am not a big fan of action movies (Drive isn’t one by the way, it is a crime movie to its core). And the primary reason for that is the monotonous nature of how the scenes materialize in most of the action movies. See, no one, and I repeat no one, gets excited just because a car is driving at illegal speeds. It is the motive behind the character’s actions for the act that make action scenes intriguing. Refn doesn’t mindlessly make his protagonist drive around. There is an eerie atmosphere created where there is an actual sense of urgency brought about by great writing, and the cinematography and editing enhance this tension. This is how real action is shot, unlike the amalgamation seen of visual effects and phony body doubles.
As the movie progresses, it uses various classic cinematic techniques to create a noir atmosphere. The dialogue is sparse, which would bother me in any other movie, but here it adds to our need for the addressal of mystery surrounding the Driver. A beautiful romance engenders from a marriage of lights and music.
Then, violence ensues. Gritty, bloody violence. Before you walk into this movie, just remember that this is clear style over substance, and I mean that in a good way. The atmosphere is meticulously created for these action scenes, a perfect build-up till all hell breaks loose.
As I said, every aspect of this movie is stylized in order for the viewer to comprehend the meaning of various symbolizations which appear throughout the music as well as costume design as well facial expressions and everything else. For eg. take the scorpion on the back of the jacket worn by the Driver in reference to the story of the frog and the Scorpion. One of the things that almost every great movie offers is an opportunity to form one’s own interpretations about characters. Here, the Driver can be viewed as a frog because he carries the weight of the criminal world on his shoulders which he knows will sting him, and he also can be thought about as the scorpion because he is meant to sting and hurt everyone around him, for that is his nature.
A lot of people were disappointed by this movie, evident from its Cinema Score ratings. Well my advice would be to watch it as a crime movie rather than an action movie, because the crime is the main plot-turner here, the action is just the consequence of it all.
The only problem I had with Drive is that it creates a certain wall between the viewer and its characters. We do relate to the character movements, but the emotions do not penetrate our heart which I felt was necessary in this movie because most of it is about character development. However, I oppose myself in this statement, because the movie is a mirror to the Driver, and that is his nature, a wall which is impermeable to emotions.
Drive is a stylized movie which offers intelligent entertainment, and I guess in this world where people come out of cinema halls proclaiming that Fast and Furious is the most thrilling movie ever made, I guess Drive acts as cocaine for those who pay the price of admission for meaningful cinema.
RATING : 8.6 / 10
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