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‘Drive’: Buckle Up for a Joyride

Let there be no mistake: The keys to an excellent weekend flick can be found in this film. Take a spin, but don’t blame me if you get motion sickness.

Strange and weird movies have been hitting the box office this September. And Drive, starring Ryan Gosling, is no exception. I didn’t think it could get any stranger after Contagion, but I was wrong. Drive is a brand-new take on an action/racing genre that shocked me with its gore and confused me with its subtlety. Yet somehow, Nicolas Winding Refn’s artful directing kept me captivated and scarce of yawning.

(On a side note, my sincerest apologies for not writing last week on Contagion. I would’ve loved to, but alas, I was needed elsewhere.)

Ryan Gosling is a nameless man, simply called Driver by friends, bosses, and yes, mob cronies out to get him. This flick takes place in the dark underbelly of Los Angeles. Driver is a brazenly good-looking stuntman by day and heist driver by night. He is unerringly sweet and soft-spoken, which factors heavily into the plotline. As it turns out, he just can’t say no to a pretty blonde.

Irene (played by Carey Mulligan) catches the attention of Driver, who lives just two doors down in a modest apartment dwelling in downtown Los Angeles. She’s angelic, in both appearance and innocence. When Irene’s husband gets out of jail, the dark elements of his life begin to draw his family into a dangerous predicament. Driver is a sucker for this beautiful girl, so he helps her husband pull a heist that’ll supposedly yield enough money to put them in the safe zone for good.

But nothing’s easy about pulling off a heist. Pretty soon, Driver is entangled in a web of East Coast thugs who will stop at nothing to kill him.

Packed with loads of suspense, an awesomely gaudy ’80s/’90s soundtrack, and enough thug-killing action to suspend your disbelief for two hours, Drive is perhaps one of the year’s best action movies. It currently holds a 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, or the equivalent of a solid A. How does this film stack up to other racing flicks?

In my opinion, it doesn’t one-up Gone In 60 Seconds, but it comes really close. To add a little perspective, I spoke with Aaron Neuwirth, a Laguna Hills native and film reviewer at WhysoBlu.com. “Drive is stylish, pulpy fun, the type of inventive film that makes an old plot feel very fresh,” he said. “And its led by Refn’s fantastic direction and Gosling’s quiet cool.”

The acting, too, was good, with impressive performances all around. Gosling’s role was believable, if not a little too real, and performances from Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, and Albert Brooks were delightful. My only reservation about this R-rated flick is that it’s a bit gory for my taste. The plot and its directing are so solidly captivating that it might catch you off guard when you see people dying in front of your eyes. If you’re squeamish, then this movie might not be for you. There is absolutely no shortage of blood here.

My friend Aaron gave it the best review on his star-rating system, a five out of five. I give it five Patches out of five, which means you need to drive yourself to the theater soon. It is currently playing at Regency Rancho Niguel 8.

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