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Wayhomer Review #83: Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling in Drive

Episode #83 for Drive, in which our protagonist discusses arthouse films and what happens to them when they miss, how sometimes silence truly does kill, and fixates on Albert Brooks‘ eyebrows or the lack thereof.

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Special thanks to PhantomV48 for the closing animation.

Previous episode here.


  • You’re nitpicking wayyyy too much. You keep referring to the fact that you thought it was something else, that it led you on? Since when is a predictable film a good film? Yeah the soundtrack and the styling of the opening credits were 80’s themed I agree but they didn’t over do it. You mention they touch upon that throughout the film, I personally think they touch on it just enough with his car for example and the garage, the tint of the camera shots ect. And I don’t understand what you mean about cutting 10 mins off the film in reference to gosling and mulligans interactions. They maybe had 15 mins of scenes where it was just those two without other characters i.e the boy or his father so that doesn’t really stand up. It’s funny too because you complain the the trailer represents a different movie than you expected. But I personally along with a lot of other movie goers hate it when the trailer shines too much light on the actual movie. Not to mention did you watch the trailer? Did you watch the first clip released? It was exactly like the opening scene, in fact IT WAS THE OPENING SCENE. How would you expect anything different there was almost ZERO dialogue in the entire clip. You also keep mentioning the film it could have been, if you read the book you’d understand that the theme of the story is nothing like transporter, or the mechanic and it never promises that. Not to mention in part of your reviewer you said “you expected more payoff”, and that you couldn’t put “your finger on it”? You’re supposed to be a movie critic? And you can’t put your finger on it? Come on man give me a break this is a half ass review basically saying that it wasn’t the movie you expected it to be, and that’s fine but don’t ruin it for everyone else. You do point out that the movie was well executed in parts, and that the acting was excellent. So what about the movie brings it down sooo much that you give it a 2.5 out of 10? What is boils down to is you’re clearly a guy who probably likes Michael Bay over Duncan Jones or Christopher Nolan ect ect.

  • Travis: 1. Hi. Nice to meet you. Clearly you’re meeting me for the first time. Let me explain something to you: what you watched was literally an improvised movie review that was recorded after I walked out of the cinema, as I explained at the start. I leave the cinema house where they showed the movie, I go tinkle, I get in the car, I drive, I review. So ALL my Wayhomer Reviews are, in that sense, half-assed.

    2. Throughout this mini-rant you say I should have read the book, watched the first clip, watched the trailer, etc. All I watch of films are the trailer, because you know what? I shouldn’t have to study to watch a film. I shouldn’t HAVE to have read the book. It’s a freaking film. I gave the same complaint about the Harry Potter films of all things and I had read the books. If I have to read the book to understand the film, then the filmmaker has FAILED. Full stop.

    3. Didn’t say that a predictable film was a good film. When did I say that?

    4. Didn’t say that the credits overdid it. When did I say that? In fact, was pleased as hell at seeing the credits like that. I was grinning.

    5. “What you mean about cutting 10 mins off the film” — I was being hyperbolic in an attempt to be amusing. Sorry it didn’t do anything for you–those scenes didn’t do anything for me, so we’re even.

    6. There’s nothing wrong with having zero dialogue. In fact there’s nothing wrong with having zero dialogue with nothing happening. It’s just when you have zero dialogue, nothing happening and Nothing Literally Is Happening On Any Level that I have an issue and I start to get bored. It’s hilarious that you later say that I clearly like Michael Bay over Christopher Nolan. By your own mini-rant, I shout unto you, Travis, did you watch my review of Inception? Since I have to study to watch the film you like, clearly you need to study up before you come and criticize my critique. Note: this may be hyperbole.

    7. The theme of the story is nothing like The Transporter? Dude, you’re getting me for nitpicking? The only comparison I was trying to make with The Transporter was that both films involve cars that go vroom and go fast and both are driven by badasses. That’s it. The specialist sub-genre. I’m surprised you didn’t try to accuse me of comparing this to Fast Five on a thematic level.

    8. How exactly did I ruin the film for everybody else? I mean, honestly, Travis, answer me that. In all seriousness, that’s the shittiest accusation you make. I didn’t spoil anything. I did watch the trailer and I restricted my comments to what was in the trailer. In fact, I didn’t even mention that I thought the reason why Gosling just sat there with that blank, half-smiling look on his face for 25 minutes at a time (note: hyperbole) was just to set us up for when it appeared later in the film. I’m not even spelling it out now because I hate spoilerish stuff.

    9. It’s hilarious that you don’t even know enough about my style to understand it’s a 5 cup rating system.

    10. Yes, I am supposed to be a movie critic. I am also a gracious host and I thank you for throwing a huge comment on my site that will inevitably bring me more traffic and search engine hits. Please feel free to counter my points with more unique content that will ultimately make me stronger.

    11. Sorry to be so snarky, and normally I try not to be, but man, you both A) were inordinately bitchy for a film that’s only going to be remembered in a year’s time for Albert Brooks and 2) made my night. (note: not hyperbole).

    P.S. If you’re actually Albert Brooks writing under a pseudonym, then I apologize. And if so, where are your eyebrows?

  • No, it’s probably not the film you thought it was. Don’t speak for the people who understand film and love pure cinema when they see it.

  • Great review…and one of the only HONEST reviews out there (LOL!!). I’m serious; what’s with the over the top praise for Ryan Gosling these days?…don’t get me wrong, he’s talented and certainly nice looking but…where was all the gushing a couple of years ago when Lars and the Real Girl was released?. I have a theory; I think that Gosling is being prepped to take over for George Clooney and Brad Pitt as the thinking mans action hero as well as the actor who can also play funny in romantic comedies.

  • One more thing—I wropte before that I believe Gosling to be talented as well as nice looking but…is he that talented and nice looking to be deserving of this much praise?…not really.

  • Heyman: Here’s a tip: not everyone who has a differing opinion than you is attacking you, chief. The only people who feel that way are people who actually are being attacked and people who don’t want to be presented with a differing opinion because they’re uncertain in their own stance.

    (Misidentified you at first because was doing this originally on my phone. Odd the app has no “edit” function. Oh well.)

  • JM: To be fair, just because an opinion is different than yours (or mine), doesn’t make it dishonest. There are some reviewers who do gush/crap on a film because it gives them attention. There are people who honestly like or dislike movies that you might look at and say, “……….What?” Apart from our own Jon Boutelle who didn’t love Casablanca…but he needs serious mental rehabilitation. Anyway, just like people who express differing opinions aren’t necessarily attacking (see our friend heyman for more info), people who express differing opinions aren’t necessarily being dishonest.

    That being said: I thought Gosling was fine. I actually think he worked in the role better than Jackman because you want to be surprised when some stuff happens and, well, we’ve seen him be Wolverine. So.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment.

  • I really liked your review, and I like your style. I appreciate your criticisms–you articulated PRECISELY my problems with the film–but also your willingness to suggest it was worth seeing. It was interesting; it kept me questioning which directions it would go; it was heavy on style, veering into pretentiousness; the muteness of the main characters became overdone; still, I’m glad I saw it. Anyway, thanks for this.

  • Wow okay I appreciate the response, wasn’t expecting that honestly. Look it’s a defensive response because I do feel like you can’t possibly give a true credible review on the way home from the movie.

    And I never said you didn’t enjoy the credits, but that’s where my nitpicking comment comes in. Yeah the credits and music had a definite 80’s feel to it, but you criticized the movie for only “touching back” on that throughout the movie. What I’m saying is that I felt it had a suddle 80’s theme and didn’t have to keep it visible the entire film, I felt that was just visible enough to give the film more depth without overdoing it.

    I never said you have to read the book or even watch the trailer. What I mean is that if you had, you’d know that they didn’t promise to be something the movie wasn’t. And the theme was very true to both.

    Also I never said you thought a predictable film was good. That was in response to again you pointing out that it’s not what you expected or what the audience will, translating to a movie being predictable. All I’m saying is I don’t think the movie deserves negative feedback because it’s not what you probably thought it was.

    And I would go as far to say this movie has a chance at film of the year, and I guarantee people are still talking about it come oscar time. But you can figure that out by the overwhelming amount of positive reviews it has.

    And I regret the Michael Bay comment in retrospect and after having done some research I do actually agree with a lot of reviews (monsters for example). And I really do appreciate you responding but I think you missed the mark on this one.

  • Travis: See? Now THIS is a discussion. Wonderful. Thank you.

    First of all, my personal policy on commenting is: Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t bother. Too many people on there just read the pull quote and assume that’s the full review. It’s not even worth going and I don’t read them. YouTube. I do bother because some people only see the reviews there. My only problem is because I have comment moderation up–to avoid spammers–I don’t always get notifications that there’s a new comment there. So it’s slower. But here, in my own home, if you show up and engage you better be prepared to be *engaged*. :-) Hey, I do warn people in the comment policy.

    Anyway, we could argue the benefits of “true” and “credible.” I would argue my reviews are truer than most because you’re getting my raw thoughts on the film immediately after seeing it. I don’t do multiple takes (unless I screw up and forget to unlock the door and slam into the car–this has happened–BUT ONLY ONCE DAMMIT). The review portion is one take, unedited, except for before I got opened up to 10+ minutes on YouTube and I had to edit down stuff like Last Airbender because I just Went Off. So I would say it’s true and credible *and different*. But that’s just me and because we’re speaking civilized we can just agree to disagree.

    Also, the 80s vibe for you was a running undercurrent. For me, it just popped up every once in a while and felt uneven. But hey, we’re two different people–and if we all watched the same film and got exactly the same reaction, we’d just draw straws and get one person to do it and save the rest of us time.

    And let me clarify something, because it may not have come out in the review: I go into each film trying not to expect anything but a decent film. So while the trailer informs me it does not define my expectations. In fact, what I was trying to say (and admittedly because this is raw video I probably wasn’t clear) the opening scene is what set my expectations–not anything I brought with me to the cinema. The opening credits modified those expectations…and then the film did not deliver. So I felt like the film itself had promised me something in its opening moments and then reneged on the deal. So yes, where I come from, if the movie itself says PREPARE FOR X and then hands me Q, then I think that deserves some demerits–If I Don’t Enjoy It. An example of where this works is No Country For Old Men–where the film never explicitly comes out and says “I am X.” It just happens to be Q all along and it lets you think it’s X. So when Q is revealed, it’s magnificent.

    I think the only reason this film would be up for Best Picture–and I’m not being snarky when I say this, I’m being realistic–is because the Best Picture slot now has 10 noms. Same thing about Inception last year. Inception had many positive reviews, made a ton of money and I freaking loved it…but if there had only been 5 noms available, it wouldn’t have made it. Yes, Drive will be up but it will have the Winter’s Bone slot, if you will. Albert Brooks is probably up for Best Supporting since he’s never won and only been nommed once before. And he has a shot at winning since many Academy voters–again, this is my opinion of the how the Academy works based on years of watching it, NOT my own opinion of how it should work–will see it as his Lifetime Achievement Award. Maybe Best Adapted Screenplay will get nommed as well if the field is slim pickings.

    Lastly, like I said above: it’s good to have differing opinions on films. If we all had the same opinion, what the hell would we talk about? Thanks for coming back and commenting again.

  • Your right, I totally apologize. It was a quick reaction to the printed part of your review. In my past experience people who don’t like cimematic visceral movies just don’t get the experience but I listened to your arguments, and I’m sorry for the quick reaction. I don’t quite agree but maybe you had some good points.

  • First time I’ve been to this site, but I felt a need to find someone who felt the same as I did after seeing Drive with all the rave reviews. Let me say that I never saw the trailer and went in with no expectations other than hoping it had a good story and was executed in a more realistic manner than most within that genre (ie. Transporter).

    Your review was dead on. My heart was almost beating out of my chest during that opening sequence. It was brilliant. I actually liked the 80s feel when the opening credits appeared and the music fit in a way that was fresh and original.

    Unfortunately, it went downhill from there, because as you said, it tried to do too many things at once. The awkward silence between the driver and the love interest was fantastic and very first. Then they did it again. And again. And again. The immersion factor was gone and I started getting irritated at the director, which I hated because I wanted so much to love this movie. The story itself was engaging and I enjoyed the developing dynamic with the father returning from prison and seeing how the characters were all connected as it moved forward. But instead of keeping a tight and well-focused movie, it ended up being a “jack of all trades” and master of none, which is unfortunate.

    I too hope that someday we’ll see the movie it could have been. A serious take on the concept the opening sequence gave us (ala Heat) that makes you want to pre-order right away on Blu Ray after walking out of the theater. It could have been a masterpiece. It seems most disagree and that’s fine, and I won’t take away from anyone else’s opinion, but disappointed would be the one word I would use to describe my experience.

    Keep up the great work and I look forward to watching more of your reviews!

  • No worries, heyman. It happens. We can agree to disagree. :-) And like I said, it’s not a *bad* movie. 2.5 out of 5 in my book is right down the middle. And for the record, I *want* people to enjoy movies, even the ones I don’t like. “I had a mediocre time with this movie–hope you do too!” That’s never a good thing. But thanks for checking back and for the additional comment, chief.

  • Rus: Thanks for the comment. Yes, I mentioned elsewhere (I honestly can’t remem–wait, it was on Facebook) that Michael Mann was that flavor I was trying to think of and you mentioned it with Heat. I agree–if somebody had taken the promise of the opening section and played it out, you would have had an indie specialist film done realistically and it would have been taut and tense as hell. I mean…now that I think about it…I can’t think of another car chase sequence in which the most tense moments were the ones in which *the car was stopped*.

    Thanks again. And welcome to the site. :-)

  • You’ve just won a new subscriber, because you’re one of the VERY few reviewers who’s had the balls to say… WTF? (sniff, sniff, even my beloved Ebert is hailing this… shame! shame!)

    First off, yes, I got the same 80s vibe off the credits and the music. Let me tell you what you were TRYING to remember: Michael Mann’s “Thief” from ’81. A movie that had an awful lot of the same themes, and also took place in LA. In fact, I think “Drive” could very easily be classified as a really (REALLY) bad remake of “Thief”.

    I tried really hard to suspend my disbelief, because I really like pretty much everyone IN this movie. And the opening sequence is… okay. Not spectacular, but I figured that would come later. I did find myself wondering what two guys could get into duffle bags in five minutes from an electronics store in East LA that would justify paying what a driver like Gosling’s character would doubtless charge, but I let that slide.

    My first hint that this might be bad was that when anyone talked to Gosling’s (nameless) character in the first half-hour, it took him AT LEAST 5 seconds to respond. It’s kind of the Nick Cage “lets-mistake-stunned-silence-for-intensity” school of acting.

    There is absolutely no chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan. The kid is a prop to build pathos. Now, when Oscar Isaac’s character (Standard) shows up, I actually felt some tension, and for a while I thought there was some potential. And he had considerably more chemistry with Mulligan.

    I won’t spoil anything, but the crime that’s central to this story makes absolutely no sense, and if you spend any time AT ALL thinking about it, there’s a definite “hey, wait a minute!” moment where you realize there’s been a spectacular coincidence. I hoped for a time that there might be some explanation for that, but alas, I was disappointed.

    There is one not-particularly-special car chase. There are some interesting murders (and I don’t mean that ironically; people die in some graphic but not implausible ways in this movie). There is Albert Brooks, who is magnificent (and, God help me, might even get an Oscar nom). It’s telling when bad guys and supporting characters register far more emotion than the “hero”, who just basically came across as Forrest Gump with a Bondurant course and a cheesy scorpion jacket.

    And, yes, “Breaking Bad” IS that good, mostly because Bryan Cranston is brilliant in it. His character is woefully underwritten here, though, and he gets no chance whatsoever to do anything even remotely interesting.

    Awful movie. Pretentious, “trying-to-be-arty” drivel. I really hope someone finds a way to spin Albert Brooks’ character off into a universe with a better plot.

  • Hey Brett–thanks for the comment. And I appreciate the attribution of testicular fortitude, but I just always say what’s on my mind, whether I’m in the majority or not. This is so far the tiniest minority I’ve been a part of this year. I think my agrees-with-RT percentage is at 70% or something.

    And yes, you’re absolutely right–as I just said a bit ago, it was Michael Mann I was trying to remember. But I honestly don’t do anything but walk out to the car, so there’s no time to look anything up, even in smartphone-land. It’s funny you bring up the jacket–I was fine with that just being except the director couldn’t let it alone. I think you follow what I’m saying there without spoilers.

    Glad you’re subscribed. I hope I can continue to entertain and inform. And, well, not run off the road. Thanks again.

  • Thanks for the reply. This is one of those emporer’s-new-clothes things that makes me HATE the movie business sometimes (and, yet, somehow I keep going… lol)

    Hadn’t seen your reviews before (got the link off RT), but I actually really dig your format. I love talking about movies as I’m leaving them, and your Wayhomer format has that kind of vibe to it.

  • Kudos to Brett (Post 18) in bringing up “Thief”, which is what I was expecting with “Drive”, given the emphasis on mood with a quasi-Tangerine Dream-style score. “Thief” is in my Top 25 Movies of All Time.

    And I’m in full agreement on the Emperor-New-Clothes theme. I don’t use RT to tell me what to see, but I’m usually “in the ballpark” with RT when it comes to generally liking/disliking a movie. “Drive” falls into that tiny category of movies that RT (and it’s not their fault) ranked quite high, yet I came away with a general WTF: “No Country For Old Men” & “There Will Be Blood”. There may be more, but these two stood out in the starkest of contrasts.

    Widge, love your format. You’ve got a good & effective down-to-earth style which I prefer over the allegedly-well-educated “Movie-Reviewer Elite” (e.g. Ebert, Roeper, Maltin, etc). You’re really funny when trashing movies that deserve it (e.g. “The Last Airbender”). Keep up the good work.

  • Widge, I have a different take on the film since I came in after the car chase and driver meeting the girl, so I didn’t have my expectations raised by the great opening car chase. Briefly, I thought your review was brilliant considering you’re writing it in stream of consciousness mode while battling traffic. I found the movie’s pacing slow and strange at times. The plausibility of the script was weak also, at times. The driver character is purposefully ambiguous. Is he brilliant or just an idiot savant? For example, the sense of urgency in telling his friends to get out of Dodge was strangely lacking. Why did he turn his back on the Albert Brooks character? All in all the movie was uneven and had too many unsatisfying moments. I’m very glad I found your review which I almost totally agree with and will come back for more.

  • Gerard and Karl: Thank you both for the kind words and for checking out the reviews and site. They’ll keep releasing them and I’ll keep driving home after them. So I think we’re good for a while. :-)

  • Great review, especially impressive since it was composed on the fly. You pinpointed a few of the things that bothered me about the film as well (but was unable to articulate as clearly). Your PS at the end of the review was very true and hilarious as well. There were sequences in the film that I found impressive, and some very nice moments – like the close-up shot of the back of the Driver’s jacket after he stomps the bad guy in the elevator. The fact that the scorpion itself seems to be breathing, to symbolize that the Driver’s violent side has been awakened, was striking and ingenious. Like you, I’m not unhappy that I saw the film, I was just subtly disappointed by the end of it. I wanted either “the specialist” type film you alluded to in your review, or something richer and more interesting than what I was given. I’ve heard some people say that it’s the Taxi Driver of our times and for me this couldn’t be further from the truth. Taxi Driver was a fascinating character study and De Niro’s performance is transparent, in that it draws you deep inside Travis Bickle’s tormented soul, as opposed to Ryan Gosling’s performance which is nearly opaque. Taxi Driver as a whole is also much more ambiguous and interesting in its treatment of the antihero motif.

  • Finally saw the movie! I had no problems with the awkward pauses between the driver and Mulligan, the protagonist’s acts and general behaviour seem to point at a severe mental disorder, so his unwillingness or inability to communicate verbally is fine with me. The criminal underworld setting would’ve allowed for more colourful characterization and interplay between characters whose stories intertwine anyway. Some small details added to the backstories and fleshed them out enough not to be cardboard stand-ins though. All in all, I enjoyed Drive, and it is actually much like a Michael Mann movie that never was. Léon (The Professional) and The American (the Clooney film by Anton corbijn) are both similar in execution and content. Léon is easily the best of the three, the other two are worth watching at least once. The soundtrack though is brilliant and works thus with the picture. Best to you, and thanks for the review!

  • At the risk of adding even more to an already lengthy comment section, you should watch Refn’s other works. I don’t know what it is about his directing style that makes his films so unsettling, but Vahalla Rising and Bronson both completely caught me off-guard. Haven’t seen Drive yet, by the way, but I’d like to catch it.