I should have listened to Leonard Maltin when he panned the movie “Drive,” but I didn’t, and now I’ve wasted two hours of my life.
There’s nothing wrong with the cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks (who steals every scene he’s in as a mob boss who understands that intensity doesn’t equal volume — he demands attention by speaking quietly, then sticking a shiv in your gut), Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, and Christina Hendricks (in a way-too-small role). Gosling plays a moody guy who is a Hollywood stunt driver by day and a getaway driver for small-time hold-up guys at night. Unfortunately, we only get a small sample of his driving ability (one quick car-flipping stunt on a movie set, and two getaways that are far from exciting).
When I say Gosling’s character is moody, it’s like saying Charlie Sheen is crazy. The driver doesn’t talk much, even when he’s falling for Mulligan as his neighbor. It’s the kind of role Mickey Rourke would have played 20 years ago, a brooding loner who gets caught up in a relationship that leads to an ultra-violent situation that plays out slowly and disgustingly before our eyes, all without Gosling spewing as much as a paragraph at a time. He had fewer lines to learn than the waiter who runs down the menu at Morton’s Steakhouse.
As I walked out, my first thought was of another movie about a man who drives for a living, falls for a young woman he wants to protect, and ends up covered in blood. That one was called “Taxi Driver,” one of the seminal films of the early 1970s, with a groundbreaking performance by Robert DeNiro, a script by Paul Schrader, and the masterful direction of Martin Scorcese.
That was brilliant movie-making. “Drive” is a boring, gory mess.