Drive—movie review

Drive arrives with its credentials of cool all set: a hot star (Ryan Gosling) in the lead, a smart supporting cast, a Best Director prize from the Cannes Film Festival, and a stylish retro-noir look. These assets may hoodwink some audiences who don’t stop—or want to stop—to explore the emptiness of the movie or its incoherency.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has chosen style over substance. The screenplay (by Hossein Amini, from a novel by James Sallis) would have you believe that its main character is existential when it seems to me he’s—

—just not very bright. In an early, expository scene, Gosling explains to a customer on the phone how he works as a getaway driver and what he requires. After that, for reasons unexplained, he seems incapable of uttering a complete sentence.

He is also presented as an innocent—after we see him ferrying a pair of burglars from the scene of their crime. Later, he displays a daunting, and also unexplained, skillset with a variety of deadly weapons. Don’t ask for logic when a movie looks good.

Even extreme, painfully graphic violence is OK, it would seem, if it’s done so operatically that it matches the film’s stylized approach. So be it.

Where others see artistry, I see pretentiousness: in Gosling’s blank stares and the staging of scenes in appropriately seamy L.A. locations. The costarring cast is strong, including Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac, and the always-welcome Albert Brooks as a well-spoken, well-heeled goon.

Vintage film noirs didn’t have to work so hard to get their points across, visually and verbally. For me, Drive is all attitude, punctuated by unpleasant bursts of violence. If that’s what passes for cutting-edge filmmaking, or storytelling, we’re in trouble.


  1. Hammad says:

    Ryan pulled it off so well, I loved the movie and especially drive scorpion jacket ….finally I got a good deal on that jacket

  2. james says:

    Yeah! Drive! "Here I go again on my oowwwwn! Goin' down the only road i've ever known! Like a drifter I wasbooorn to walk aloooooone!"
    This film is awful. Allowed my friend, who reprehensibly claims that its good, to show me an interview with the director. He thought the guy would be interesting because he thinks the film is good. But he became angry when he was confronted with the director's bombastic pretensions because he still couldn't just admit how bad this film is.
    Quote from director, something along the lines of it being about "violence that protects innocence".
    What a terrible film, neither about love nor violence, a crippled attempt to portray both, backwardly fusing them together like…. a disappointing human being

  3. Truth says:

    Some of you are just very narrow minded. Anyone who thinks this is a "bad" movie needs to smash their own head in like Gosling did the guy in the elevator. I thought this movie was very symbolic (The Scorpion and the Frog) and showed a little bit of everything in life. It showed love, awkwardness, confidence, mystery, outrageously surreal violence, and pretty much every other emotion we face as human beings. The movie was completely realistic, as in everything theoretically could happen. I love the Driver, Gosling pulls off the part amazingly. He even built the car that he drove in the movie so he could become better aquanted with his character, which I thought was awesome. Most actors aren't that into their roles. Yes, there are some shocking parts in the movie, but that's what makes it so good. It transforms. Starting out as a frog, The Driver is forced to become the scorpion. While exhibiting ruthlessness towards his enemies, he shows a deep compassion for Irene and Benencio. Bottom line is, this is a badass movie. No matter how many people bash it, Drive is now one of my alltime favorites. I can really relate to the characters and it's a great emotional journey throughout the entire movie. The people that don't like this movie simply don't understand it. Plain and simple. This movie is very relatable, and Gosling makes it hard not to like The Driver. Some of you act like since Eastwood and McQueen had similar characters that nobody should be allowed to emulate any facet of their work. That's stupid. The character is awesome and is both a hero and a complete badass. He is mysterious, quiet, but very much an intelligent person. 2 thumbs up. Great actors, director, music, and scenery. Had a great 80's vibe in a modern society, and it's definitely something I will watch again and again. I recommend watching this movie with the anticipation of seeing a movie unlike any other. All the elements blended together in this movie are fantastic and present a wonderful contrast. You will see the most beautiful and horrific sides of human nature, and I think that is something worth watching. 🙂

  4. Ed says:

    Congratulations, Leonard, way to step in to a new low of contrarian dickhead pretentious reviewing. You called "The Big Hit" with Mark Wahlberg, a good movie, this to you spells "trouble". It is an homage film, get off yourself.

  5. AGMCon says:

    Watched the movie. Seemed like a sad attempt to mimic Bullit. Gosling tried to be "McQueen" cool and silent. Didn't make it.

  6. Drive was horrible says:

    Stylistically the movie was awesome, particularly the costumes, soundtrack and cinematography. However this was the most mindless, soulless, pretentious, incoherent movie I have seen this year. It tries to be an artsy film but then it has the worst expository, on the nose bonehead action flick dialogue I have seen in a film in a long time. In one scene we have mindless staring, then in the next scene we have laughable expository and on the nose dialogue. I was laughing out loud at some of the lines in this movie. The "heart' of the movie couldn't be more fake as it was hard to understand what the couple "in love" saw in each other. The worst part was that the movie was so ridiculously boring. Why did the screenwriters make everything so easy for the protagonist? Outside of the first five minutes, the character got out of situations so easily, even the climax was easy! It made for a ridiculously boring movie with absolutely no tension. I've never been so upset watching a movie in a long time. The emperor has no clothes and anyone who actually thinks this movie is intelligent is a complete moron.

  7. Bal says:

    Hi all,
    It's amazing how polarizing this movie is…
    Some of you think it's the best movie ever, others the worst.
    In my opinion, it was OK, beautifully shot, but I got the feeling it was clearly trying too hard to be a 'cool' film… Lingering wistfully, just for the sake of it, far too often, and quite a silly plot line overall.

  8. John says:

    I saw this movie last night on Netflix. I am always skeptical of action movies using "pretty boys" for the lead role, and I put Ryan Gosling in that category after seeing him in Crazy-Stupid-Love and "The Notebook" movie. I shouldn't be too quick to judge, however, as Drive really made me reconsider Gosling's potential as an explosive actor. Granted, this movie was written with as little dialog as possible for the "driver" character that nearly anyone would be passable in that role, but Gosling separated himself from the conventional crowd with his ice-cold, expressionless face that made him… kind of a badass. This movie won me over in the scene where he turns from innocent wheelman to a guy who puts on gloves and strikes fear into a Hendricks with a quick slap to the face. He was serious business from that point on. Makes me wonder what his background was like to take on that violent skillset.

    Aside from the movie being well written, what stuck out in my mind was the soundtrack and the colors of the text. Prior to watching the movie, a friend of mine who had seen Drive told me to listen to the song "A Real Hero" by College. Listening to the song while starring at the youtube player really didn't do anything for me — I didn't feel anything for it. Post-Drive viewing, I get it now. The song is not only fitting for the driving scenes, but it gives a hint of intensity with the 80s rhythmic beat. Secondly, the hot-pink color of the text along with the 80s soundtrack kind of set my mind into rewind, back to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, where the game pulsed with 80s theme music and hot pink neons and text. And to wrap these two as complimentary as possible, they both include gangster/mafia personas.

    Truly a great movie.

  9. AyetoZed says:

    Finally, thankyou Leonard, A critic that goes against the grain and says what he really feels about a movie. I finally got around to watching Drive a few weeks ago… I saw it for free, on DVD. I will not bore you with a long winded review as per some of the zealots who have professed their undying love for this movie / director.

    My thoughts…. over hyped excrement (read Sh*t), not worthy of my $15 + to see this at a Cinema, or $2.50 to hire on DVD (I paid nothing and watched it at a friends house, I would have been disappointed if I had been duped into outlaying ANY money to watch this movie).

    The Ultra Violence depicted throughout this move was particularly offensive, unnecessary and shows just how banal and immature REFN is.

    (Spoiler Alert) The scene where Ryan kisses the leading lady for a good 20 seconds in the elevator whilst the hit-man looks on, then Ryan proceeds to stomp on said hit-man's head until it collapses… pathetic. BTW I am not adverse to depictions of Horror / Violence in cinema and I have seen more than my share of violence in real life and I have worked with many victims of crime in the past.

    Some of the reviews I have read about this movie are laughable, the Authors trying to give any level of credence or kudos to REFN where he clearly does not deserve any.

    And to spell it out for the less educated, I have not 'MISSED THE POINT'. I Laugh when I see the words 'art nouveau' and 'A tribute to….' etcetera splashed around with abandon. I do not compare this movie to Fast and the Furious, Transporter or Saw franchises or any film of their ilk as I have not watched any of that trash.

    I recently watched a video online of REFN being interviewed on UK Television. Host "the violence… its like a car crash" REFN "Violence is easy to work with… its like F*cking" (sic) yeah, maybe if you are a DV perpetrator.

    Absolutely Moronic… I have to wonder if the guy ever listens to himself when he talks….

    I see that maybe he will be directing a remake of Logans Run… please, whoever owns the rights … DO NOT let this man anywhere near it!

  10. byron says:

    I feel like you missed a large portion of what this movie was supposed to be about. Ryan's character in the film is a drifter, and someone who has clearly experienced some traumatic past experiences, or at the very least lived one hell of a shitty life. In the film his character's backstory is clearly left ambiguous

    "You from around here?"
    "I just moved here, blah blah blah"

    Throughout the film it is continually shown that Ryan's nameless "hero" is just as insane and violent as the villains and crooks attempting to kill the family he latches onto. This was specifically highlighted in the elevator sequence, where Gosling curb stomps a hitman to death while a horrified (i've forgotten the actress' name/character) looks on with sheer terror.

    Gosling's character's further inability to communicate with others, except for a save few, only further increases the point that he is damaged goods. Whatever he's been through in life previous to the opening scene of "Drive", it wasn't pretty.

  11. Bob says:

    This movie sucked. nothing was good about it. The critics us fancy words to describe the good parts, and that it is a suspense thriller. Well, i was on the edge of my seat….. waiting for something to happen. i thought it was going to better the more i watched, but it kept getting worse.

  12. John says:

    I think it is Maltin himself who has chosen style over substance here. His ‘review’ opens with a series of silly alliterations (“drive arrives”, “credentials of cool”, “smart supporting”…and that’s just from the FIRST damn sentence) in an attempt to get your engines revving (see how annoying that is Maltin?). This technique may hoodwink some readers who don’t stop, don’t want to stop or can’t stop (because they are Maltin fanboys?) to see how empty and incoherent Maltin’s review is itself. I mean, for someone who is a purportedly well-schooled film critic, this review is shamefully vacuous and lazy.

    Where others see (yes, I am going to mock Maltin by mocking his ridiculous prose) artistry, I see pretentiousness: in claiming to know what the screenwriter “would have you believe” (how pretentious is THAT after all?) and in ascribing un-intelligence to a character’s actions that he doesn’t understand or maybe, quite simply, can’t understand. Seems Maltin needs a film’s ‘reasons for things’ explained to him in the most unsubtle way possible if he is to complete a single insightful sentence of in his reviews.

    Drive, after all, is a fairly subtle movie about the human condition under the inescapable influences of instinct and luck that goes about its subtlety in a consciously unsubtle manner…something that the first year film studies students posting here (you know, the ones going through the petuous if-it’s-not-mid-century-european-art-house-then-it’s-meaningless-fodder-for-the-masses phase) are having trouble grasping – just because symbols are manifest and easily recognizable doesn’t mean that their meaning is as well.

    This is another interesting theme that runs through Drive – that some of the most enigmatic forces acting on and from within us are hidden in plain sight, and that just because we can see something (scorpion on jacket) and call it by the name we have given it (symbolism) doesn’t necessarily mean that we have understood the larger reality of what that thing may represent – we may just be declaring that the shadows dancing on the cave wall are moving pictures with no insight of their real origins and import in our lives. Yes, Gosling’s character resembles a scorpion (in the way he gently moves before he strikes with seemingly exaggerated violence or isn’t really able to live with others, as much as he may want to) in more than one way, but what this means is open to interpretation. I’m sure this irks people like Maltin, but hey, we live in a world of uncertainty. Get over it.

    Of course a lot of people were angry or disappointed that the movie Drive wasn’t really about cars (or car chases, bank robberies etc., the quintessential stuff of clichéd American action flicks). But then again, was it reasonable to think that a movie by a Danish director starring a low key actor like Gosling would be? Really? I guess if you are the kind of person who went to see a film about car chases, and saw instead a film about drive in the psychoanalytic sense of the word, you might indeed be frustrated. But you could equally be pleasantly surprised. Depends on the person right? Which brings me back to Maltin.

    All he wanted to see, or could see, in Drive was a film that was “…all attitude, punctuated by unpleasant bursts of violence.” Kind of sad, right? If that’s what passes for cutting-edge film reviewing, and film reviewers, we are indeed in trouble.

  13. Malcolm says:

    Fuckin toothpick prick

  14. Jase says:

    This movie was definitely shat out of The British/American movie machine. Thank God I had a free redbox code for this crap. I'm sure if you went to a redbox and punched in paintdry you may get a free rental for this one. And to think I stopped watching America's cutest kitties to see this disaster.

  15. Philip says:

    An hour and 45 minutes of my life I can never get back..

  16. jessi says:

    There is more action in a 30 mins tv series with commercials than there is in this movie.I feel for anyone who felt that this was an exiting action movie because they have been deprived of truly great action movies. If you are going to make a car movie please make the shifting of the car realistic because a motor can only up shift so much unless you have the motor from a semi in a little car

  17. Jack says:

    I thought the movie was pretty good overall. Could have used more dialogue – yes. I think for those of you who are going crazy over how bad this movie was were i will ask this: were you expecting an instant classic or some shit? It was as advertised- a pretty good action drama.

    You can now go back to your circle jerk while watching Twilight or some other "good" movies as you would probably rate them.

  18. Aubrygd says:

    I paid $1.29 at redbox for this movie and want a refund. Seriously folks! Any critic that tries to rate this movie higher than a zero star is smoking more weed than Willie Nelson and Snoop dog one a tour bus.. I have never felt so awkward watching a film in all my life. I wanted to slap the main character so he would say something. R2D2 could have played the driver and no one would have known the difference. Save your money folks this one ain't worth the buck cinema seat. God help Hollywood! I cannot believe this thing is so highly rated. I think someone is plying a joke on me. Seriously.
    P.S. I want someone to show me how to slim Jim a 2011 ford mustang door open then 2 seconds later start it without a key. That should have been my clue to turn off the movie.

  19. Tristian says:

    I reckon the the ones captivated by this are born between the 70's and early eighties , who remember 80's movies and I am one of those. I think At the end of the day its a greek tragedy. Love story and redemption .In no way was substance substituted for style, hoodwinked – whatever, Its not just noir just because it looked so good, it exudes class . There is a reason its an arthouse movie – Logic doesnt dictate the story.The pace of this movie was dictated by itself. And the minimization of dialog was used for a purpose and perfectly at that.

  20. Jen says:

    I couldn't stand the movie either, thought I was the only one

  21. Agree with 'Just an Opinion' says:

    Pat, why the anger? 'Just call it as I see it?' How about this, I never was in theater, was a three sport athlete who was reasonably popular but I stend with the 'losers'. This movie sucked! It should have been called 'Stare' not 'Drive'. Slow motion, drawn out, no dialogue scenes of people staring spiked with sudden gory violence. All meant to create some psuedo noir drama and suspense. It really was terrible.

  22. Pat says:

    Reading these comments make me mad! This movie was awesome, soundtrack awesome, acting awesome! I feel like you are a bunch of movie snobs that over analyze details. I know exactly the type of people you are….you were the losers in high school and college. Let me guess you were also in theater and never made it. Now you try to be analytical because that is the closet thing you will get to the big screen. I just call it as I see it:)

  23. Strevlac says:

    Thank you, Mr. Maltin. I can't believe how many prominent, mainstream critics are gushing all over this extremely mediocre piece of work. It's a movie made by people who have never done anything but watch other movies. There is no depth, no pathos, it has absolutely nothing interesting to say. It's no better (I would say worse) than just about anything else that tries to pass for cinema these days.

    Where have all the interesting, talented filmmakers gone? All we have today are pretenders.

  24. just an opinion says:

    Drive is a terriable movie. There is no way around it. Maybe it could have been an alright movie if I had never seen another movie before, but even then its still not good at all. Had all the right ingridents just didn't deliver. An the slow scenes were just plain ridiculios.

  25. Silverscreenlover says:

    Bride rented this on her birthday – so, in truth, she wasted part of her special day. S__O__S__L__O__W! Interspaced with violence, should have taken a position between being a "racin',chasin'crashin" flick or a "dark and moody study of the minds of criminals". What resulted was a tour de force in mind-numbing time wasting. Good acting (very little from the 'star'), nice camera work. All overbalanced by the lack of selecting what the film would be about.

  26. jay says:

    I agree with Leo. Not a bad movie, but the main character is not very credible and the plot has no inner tension – everything is externalized and heavy with meaning. Who thinks this is a great movie, hasn't seen many classics yet. The little self-pleased direction is atmospheric, but never reaches hights like movies as Taxi Driver.

  27. CynicalCritic says:

    Thank you or a spot-on review of one of the most overrated movies of 2011 (what are the British smoking over there?).

    It's funny because, after viewing the film last night, I immediately checked your 2012 book to see if, by chance, your review made it into the book. I actually was worried that you would have given it 3 or 3 1/2 stars, because I have been hearing so much praise over this movie. I just couldn't believe, while watching it, that the movie had received such accolades.

    At any rate, I hated the movie even more than most people, and it could possible end up on my Ten Worst List for 2011.

  28. c says:

    this blog sucks because of the advertisements

  29. PM says:

    Can't believe you gave this movie such a bad review. I cant remember seeing such a skilfully made movie in a long time. Yes the violence is confronting, but its not gratuitous, not violence for violence sake. All the actors give top performances. The movie relies on subtleties to drive the drama. I just think you missed a lot of the elements, which is really a shame!

  30. Yohan says:

    It's not a bad movie, but not as great as the critics said it was. the movie was well made, but from the first time that I saw its teaser poster, I was a bit put off by the choice of font it chose (it reminds me of 80's & 90's esp. the tv series Silk Stalking) and hence my decision to put off watching it until today.
    the movie's pace felt forced as it feels as if it is trying to emulate great westerns or noirs of old (Once Upon a time in the West etc). It didn't have to be edited like an MTV video clip, but slow for the sake of being cool is actually kind of annoying
    Gosling's not that great (he's much better in the Ides of March), Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman and Cranston are great and some of their violent acts are actually within their characters and I don't mind it (esp. Albert Brooks being so ruthless).
    One thing that doesn't make sense is the Driver's decision to leave himself open for an attack from the back when he knows who he's dealing with and what he's done.
    Last but not least, the decision to keep the Driver alive at the end of the movie doesn't feel right esp. considering the one who stabbed him was extremely skillful several scenes before it.
    Quite good, but not that great

  31. Character/Film Synopsis says:

    It is the facial expressions and the small nuances of the actors that drive the story (kind of like the office) and this style of minimalism and artistic shots are seen in a lot of Japanese movies. . Looking at Ryan Gosling's character from a Buddhist perspective we see he lives completely in the moment without thoughts of gain (he lets himself get ripped off by his boss), thoughts about the future, and also about the past (we know nothing about him and he talks nothing about his past). He only reacts to what is around him and there is something fascinating about that. Perhaps the movies name isn't about driving but is about considering what "drives" Gosling. I think the point of the movie is that he only lives in the moment. He is completely content in whatever action he takes and the contentment can be seen as an example in his smile that seems to happen for no reason. So we see the contrast of Gosling's character against the greedy egocentric characters of the film who are only worried about keeping what they have, manipulating others, and about preparing for the future to come. We also know that this Gosling has no ego (remember the part where the girl tells him that his stunt driving must be dangerous? His only response was that its just a part time job).

    So we know 2 things about Gosling. 1- he lives in the moment 2- he has no ego. Why does he choose to help the girl? He knew she needed help, so he helped her.. simple. I wish we were all more like this. He didnt care about living or dying, he didnt care about people knowing about his good deed, didnt care about money, he didnt feel any duty to do it. The deed to help was completely done out of selflessness.

    Violence in the film
    Gosling isnt a hit man and he doesnt have a skill set for hurting people. The only thing he could resort to was what man has been doing since the beginning of time which is grab a big stick and kick ass. In this case he grabbed a hammer and went out to solve problems. So the violence is justified in my opinion.

  32. Aiden says:

    Could the movies low budget have anything to do with the amount of holes in the story line? There were so many areas that seemed like they had been built up and were about to go somewhere, but then just didn't happen. They may have cut a bunch of driving scenes since they couldn't even seem to afford the ones they used.

  33. Hendo says:

    It does seem simple but that doesn't mean it has no substance, or no depth. Some of the most arresting, intriguing and well thought out art is minimal – Hemingway's 6 word story or Gomringer's Silence for example.
    A million plot twists and endless dialogue doesn't equal a great movie, and films like Drive showcase this. Drive seems to be a superficial film, something around GTA Vice City, but when you inspect the individual elements (sound design – particularly diagetic/non-diagetic sound, visual metaphor, location) it shows you an intense level of depth and thought.
    It's a bit unfair to compare it to vintage noir, which, especially with a screenwriter like Wilder at the helm, was dialogue driven. Drive takes motifs from other genres but deliberately sets out to be none of them specifically. It's probably closest to fantasy/fairy tale.
    I thought it was beautiful, simple, haunting and intensely well produced.

  34. Dealer says:

    My take on Drive (aka Oscar wannabe) @

  35. Andy says:

    I liked this movie, and I didn’t read deeply enough into it to see any anti-Semitic portrayals or poor portrayals of women. You people act like there aren’t any Jewish gangsters out there, or helpless women. Not that I encourage stereotypes… But this movie was about the Driver, not that stuff. The soundtrack and the cinematography just blended really well for me, and I watched it twice in two days to be sure I didn’t miss anything. Like I said, I liked it. Gosling’s “atmospheric masculinity” didn’t offend or bother me- it made me wish I could emulate that just a little bit. The violence was grandiose and gory, yes, but once again not entirely unrealistic. We’re talking about a major city here, namely LA, and these things happen outside of the screen your eyes are focused on right now. Oh, and to RY? You trolling piece of crap. Between your rednecked, ignorant, and plain stupid references to Nazis and the like, your vocabulary suggesting non-primate ancestry, and the fact that you typed in all-caps and in TEXT TALK, no one will take you seriously. Which is a good thing.
    But why should we take movie critics any more seriously? Watch it yourself, and try to enjoy it because regardless of how much money you spend, you could be outside. Driving.

  36. T. Billings says:

    I read this review and it became my rationale for skipping this film even though just about every other critic extolled it.

    Because judging by what Maltin has said, this sounds like a film that I would just plain HATE.

  37. "drive"s me nuts says:

    Crazy Shit movie. Don’t waste your time and money.

  38. RY says:







  39. Jack S says:

    I sense the repulsive response towards anti-semite comments in this movie have really provoked some very harsh reviews for this movie – it’s a shame that maltin could not look beyond his jewish eyes and see the real brilliance in Refn’s modern masterpiece..tsk tsk..

  40. E.T. says:

    Very mediocre movie. Unrealistic gore, awkward silence and pauses in the dialogue between Gosling and Mulligan… Horrible ending. Probably Gosling’s worse movie. I guess the point of the story is that people get DRIVEN into situations and if driven into a bad one how will you Drive yourself out of it…

  41. CJ says:

    Am I the only one remembers “The Driver” with Ryan O’Neal and Bruce Dern? I guess it was as forgettable as the new one.

  42. debify says:

    The movie had great acting and cinemetography. The story did not develop deeply enough at all. At the end I was left with a really bad feeling. If your going to subject me to that much graphic violence, you could at least tie things up at the end. I don’t recommend it :/

  43. John says:

    I loved the movie but I did notice an anti-semetic undertone with the two “bad guy” characters.Its very unrealistic and makes a statement. Probably because the screenplay was written by an Iranian guy. nuff said!

  44. Bonnie says:

    There were people walking (actually running) out of the theatre when I saw
    this film. I enjoy hard action films, but am wondering what it takes for a film
    to earn an NC-17 rating. This was one of the most graphically violent films
    I’ve seen. And it wasn’t the crowd cheering because revenge was finally exacted on the bad guy. This was spurts of senseless, gratuitous, gory violence having little to do with the story line.

  45. Dave says:

    Don’t waste your money on this one..seriously! You’ve been warned. Utterly worthless, pointless, and left me wondering how any person of intelligence could produce such a pile of trash and charge people to watch it. I came near to screaming at the screen a few times…truly maddening.

  46. lance says:

    Great cast and good noir film technique, but the story had more holes than a pound of swiss cheese. I thought the violence was uber-violence, the actors were stuck with cartoon characters, and the scant dialogue was often too scant to be enjoyable or effective. It could have been a great movie with a few changes, such as more background and focus on the relationship between characters and more realistic behavior. In the real world, very bad people, those in criminal world, tend to be smarter than these lame thugs.

  47. laloca says:

    I left the theater after watching this movie angry. angry that I had spent two hours and ten bucks to have my intelligence insulted by a filmmaking team that seemed to think that lack of dialogue, unnecessary back story, hammer-to-the-head expository soundtrack, and emo pretentiousness equals deep, meaningful, and innovative.

    at two points in the movie I nearly got up and walked out. the first was at the beginning of the gratuitous stripper scene (I suppose since there was no sex in the rest of the flick and the female lead was always conservatively dressed, they had to make up for it by showcasing a room full of topless, dead-eyed automata). the second was when gosling delivered the laughable, “you know the story about the scorpion and the frog…?” line. in case you hadn’t realized that he was the scorpion. in the scorpion jacket. in every scene. who kills things. because it’s just his nature.

    give. me. a. break.

    it’s a movie that thinks the public is so stupid that it will lap up a pile of moodily-lit, incomprehensible gibberish ad declare it genius. I find that incredibly insulting. although given the 92% positive critics review, it’s apparently right.

  48. Justin says:

    My complaint about the movie is simple… No Developement!

    Sure, things happened and characters died. However, we didn’t know anything about the main character or love interest at the beginning of the movie, and neither seemed to develop or come to any realization by the end of the movie. By the end, you’re just left with the driver doing who knows what, and the girl is still just… there.

    Nothing really changed other than friends or family dying. At the end, I really just saw style (if you can call the over-use of the “akwardness” gimmick from the protagonist a style), but without any progression. I feel like Driven was a complete waste of time.

    The only reason I believe this has such high ratings is because of the fascination of the “awkwardly silent” main character gimmick… which has been done before (have you seen Keanu Reeves in the Matrix?). But more seriously, Adam Sandler did pretty much the same thing in “Punch Drunk Love”…. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t thrown back by this personality, and was bored by the first quarter of the movie.

  49. Rjw says:

    Have to agree with the others that disliked this movie for most of the same reasons. Probably one third of the people in the theater walked out of this movie at one point or another. Don’t waste ten bucks on this garbage. It will probably be out on DVD after a short while – see it then so you won’t feel like you wasted a lot of money.

  50. Bill says:

    @ Martin H. Leaf

    You’re an idiot.

  51. Allison says:

    Didn’t like it. Didn’t like how it portrayed women or Jewish people. Did not care for the gory, gratuitous violence. Didn’t care for the ambiguous ending or the heavy handed symbolism.

  52. Cleo in L.A. says:

    I guess most people walked away without a full understanding of this movie. I thought it was quite wonderful. Not your typical action “cute” movie. Although, it did make you wonder what lead the ‘driver’ to be a “driver” but i have to tell you that the movie left quite an impression on me. Loved Ryan’s character. The movie leaves you guessing and wondering how he ended up where he was. I think the script must have only been a few pages long, since not much of a dialog was spoken but you have to look at the expressions, their eyes, there didn’t need to be much dialog. This wasn’t a movie that got you lost in a bunch of jargon. It was quite captivating. This was not one of those what I call “cute” Tom Cruise movie, and I’m a girl….this is definitely a movie to watch. Ryan is smokin’ – this is really the first movie I have really noticed him in. And the music…perfect for the scenes. I downloaded the album as my husband and I walked to our car after watching…..simply something different.

  53. Elspeth says:

    I have written my own view but I am relieved to see that others on this site agree

  54. brian says:

    Have to disagree with you on this one Leonard. Saw this on Friday and actually dreamt about it. This thing stays with you. I thought it was very unique in this world off typical movies. And if Albert Brooks does not get a nomination for playing a completely different character than anything he has ever done that would be a crime.

  55. James Scott says:

    Oh yeah, there was so much to hate I forgot some parts. The soundtrack is so annoying and bad, I grew up in the 80’s, and the 80’s style soundtrack was even WORSE than the music of the 80’s.

    And to see two criminals at the beginning, standing in the shadows with their black ski masks, just hanging out on the street waiting for their getaway car….why would a “driver” get involved with two morons that standing on the street with their burglar Halloween costumes on????

    And even Ron Perlman, who I like, delivered a caricature performance right of a comic book…..wait, actually it was more like watching the film adaptation of Grand Theft Auto IV, where criminals run around in track suits carrying baseball bats in the parking ramp.

    I’ve never written a response to a movie review in my life, but I am hitting the HATE button on this one with a sledgehammer.

  56. James_Scott says:

    I had almost no expectations for this movie, and I was still seriously disappointed. After the third upward pan of the dude’s scorpion on the back of his jacket…the third scene of fist clenching…it all became just laughable. There is nothing new or unique in this film, and if you can’t predict exactly what will happen next with almost every scene (you didn’t predict the husband would soon be sprung out of jail for some drama elements??, how long after the character gets shot at the pawn shop did you realize the woman was in on the set-up??). If you were not yawning, thinking about how much money you spent on the ticket, or shaking your head as each easy, cliche, no-surprise event occurred, then you probably enjoyed the film only if you’re able to slink into your movie seat and shift your brain into neutral.

    One of the more problematic points for me was the female character. She sits around at home while the men she chooses deceive her, committing crimes that put her life and the life of her son in jeopardy. She starts an emotional affair with a guy that lives just two doors down, realizing that her criminal husband will be soon out of jail? After learning that Stoneface was there when her husband was killed (and he now has the money and offers to take care of her), does she consider that he may have behind it all, killing her husband and the cash so he could have her? Maybe that’s why she slaps him? But then she watches him stomp a guy’s head to mush, and she is STILL going back for more, knocking on his door toward the end of the film? What is her attraction to this mute, lying, murderer? After seeing one of her bad choices go to prison, she actually KNOWS these things about criminal boyfriend #2 and continues to want expose herself and her child. They should have exposed more of these masochistic tendencies, rather than trying to portray her as some innocent angelic beauty, that woman has serious issues.

    And the end becomes even more absurd. At one point in the film, when the bad guys are still after him, he’s willing to take the cash and run away with cutey-pie. At the end, he’s killed all the bad guys (except for unknown Mafia dudes who will apparently hunt him to the ends of the earth for a million bucks??), but then decides to leave the cash, leave the girl, and drive away, presumably to the next city where he will invariably get himself into more implausible situations. Also, if he shows up at the restaurant knowing the bad guy will attempt to kill him (he knows it, he packs a knife), why not be preemptive, put on your movie mask (not your blood stained Scorpion coat dumbass), walk past him, turn around, quietly slit his throat, and walk calmly out of the restaurant, no one can identify you, and no cop will apparently ever catch you in your car. WTF? Instead he WAITS to be stabbed FIRST, then counters. I know he left a message to cutie that he might not return, but he appears suicidal and only accidentally survives, and if you were watching the movie at all, if he were suicidal, he’d fer sure off himself in his car.

    Anyway, the movie sucked, I’m surprised that anyone liked it or would defend it. Terrible.

  57. Martin H. Leaf says:

    Drive should be noted for its Jew hatred. Every false negative Jew hating stereotype is in this movie. What is outrageous is that there is no legitimate reason for it.

    There are virtually no Jews today in violent organized crime. And of course Jews commit relatively few violent crimes. But even if there were today violent Jewish gangsters, the fact that the two Jews lacked any kind of humanity, or redeeming values, compared to all the other characters that were exposed for more than a few seconds, is repugnant.

    It is easy to understand how the intellectuals at Cannes would gush over this film. After all, Jew hatred (or for that matter America hatred)is quite the rage these days in Europe. As for the critics in lockstep with their European colleagues, lets just say they suffer from “the emperor has no clothes” syndrome.

    Thankfully, Maltin still thinks for himself, and his thinking is trenchant.

  58. Dave says:

    There’s one thing that’s true about Maltin, if it ain’t b&w, then chances are 30/70.

  59. Jorge says:

    Maltin already gave two of this year’s best films negative reviews. Nothing satisfies him that is not cheap sentiment and pretentious melodramas.

  60. T.J Royal says:

    It’s the movie that’s gotten a lot of people writing about it online. These are the most comments on one topic on Leonard’s Web site I’ve seen in the past two years.

  61. John R says:

    Just saw it and wow what a disappointment. Long stretches of slow moving boring parts and limited dialog is mixed with super violent and gory killing. Not much on car chasing either. Given the name, I was hoping to see more driving action but no that did not happen. Towards the end, Driver takes his late 70’s Chevy and slams a Town car so hard it flips it over an embankment and lands on the beach below. When the camera shows the front of the Chevy there is no damage – The headlights and marker lights are still working – right. Several people just walk out of the theater early. Save your money and skip this one.

  62. r. says:

    Mr. Maltin, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt about Drive, as I have not seen it. But remembering another winner for Best Director at Cannes–Wong’s brilliant Happy Together– and having followed you for years (for good or bad), I must remind you that style can be substance… and, incidentally, substance can be style too. Skilled directors know this and often work it to great effect.

    Not all storytelling follows (thankfully) the standard Hollywood model, so adept at catering to middle class complacency and so vehement about spelling out every possible meaning through exposition or mechanical dramatics, and about leveling the emotional proceedings with wisecracks or cute gimmicks. I’m looking at you, Up in the Air!

    You are a critic, not just an average movie goer. There comes responsibility with that.

  63. Tom G says:

    I enjoyed parts of this movie, as a fan of realistic car chases, versus stunts like driving onto a moving train, of driving on top of buildings, jumping the car, flipping it and landing perfectly, etc. The story was mostly plausible, which may also be why a lot of people didn’t enjoy it. As far as the main character goes, he almost seems a bit autistic, socially detached like “Cosmo” Freddy Prince Jr, in the movie “Coldblooded.” Now that movie didn’t do so well with reviews either, but I still found it to be entertaining. I would bet they could have tied movie of the plot-holes together, if they cut down on some of the five minute, thousand mile stares.
    The truth is, I still will buy this on DVD, because it works well enough for me, and it when you have 11 thousand DVDs, they can’t all be blockbuster hits.

  64. FM says:

    @ Zeiram

    It seems like most people like “Drive” though. Just compare its IMDb rating and Tomatometers to “The American.” I do not expect it do very well in the theaters though simply because it is very hard for R-rated movies in general to succeed.

  65. Zeiram says:

    The reason people don’t like this movie is because it’s like George Clooney’s The American was for action/assassin flicks. Drive is like that film was for car movies. The Bourne films (as good as they are) might be more like Fast and Furious. But Drive is like a 70s/80s art film (it even pokes fun at 80s action movies). For my money, the main problem that people claim they have with it is the pacing, violence and bad marketing. Well, I have news for you. The trailers of today are NOT good indicators of what a “film” is all about. Also, it’s natural to be a bit fidgety in a movie if you like your cuts to be less than 1 second apart. Patience is a virtue. And film wisdom is a blessing. We can’t all be critics but we certainly aren’t all stupid. The recent reviews I’ve seen of Drive indicate that a lot of people are. But then again, that’s the state of the world for ya. Fast Food and not a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant. It tastes good but they don’t tell you there are chemicals in it. I’ve eaten at some of the nicest restaurants in the world. For a palette to improve you need to think outside the box (in both films and life).

  66. Joe says:

    I rarely take the time to comment on web sites about a movie. I usually trust rottentomatoes to guide me to a decent flick on the rare date nights my wife and I get to have. This movie was just plain terrible. It was mind numbing slow for the majority of it. I kept thinking it was building up to a frantic ending but it never happened. There are small bursts of violence to keep you from completely nodding off. If you like watching wooden acting by the lead man as he stares off into the distance for agonizing minutes on end and shots of his knuckles cracking as his clenches his fists to show his resolve then this is the flick for you. One would also think that a movie named drive might have a few more car chase in it. Not really. Overall this one is a stinker. Avoid it.

  67. Dana says:

    Note for note, Maltin hit almost every negative I noted from this film. One of the WORST movies I’ve ever seen.

    Then again, I prefer story and characterizations. Even the defenders of this one are acknowledging that the character of the Driver is left vague. Most seem to prefer that. I tend to feel that there was a decision made that if they gave him any form of humanity, they would have to sacrifice cool points.

    I genuinely HATE this film. I don’t think I’ve been as frustrated since the remake of Dr. Moreau.

    Every few minutes I found myself open-mouthed asking myself why the character made such a decision. The rest of the time, I was wondering at what point there would be a change in The Driver’s character arc. I guess I got it in the elevator. …kinda.

    And for a chase movie called Drive. I’m thinking maybe more than two 2 minutes car chases and an 8 second film-stunt-crash would have maybe been in order.

  68. Jack says:

    @ Zeiram

    Can’t agree more. The trailer is trying to tell people the wrong information.

    It’s not filled with quick cuts, one-liners and CGI. We should be thankful for that. Instead, it seems like some people want more of the same formulaic junk that passes itself off as entertainment these days.

    As for the driver being stupid, if he figures out who is trying to kill him and he hatches a plan to elminate the people trying to get him and Irene, I’d say he’s at least smarter than hiscompetition, which does make him the smarter guy.

  69. Saxby says:

    re: lol and Randall A.

    I don’t have strong convictions about Maltin as a critic, but I respect Maltin as a figure within the film preservation world. My anecdote about the SFSFF is a true one, and any humor from it is the humor of an isolated truth. I do not intend to “burn” Mr. Maltin.

    Pierre – thank you for your contribution. I’ve been revisiting early Melville and can’t wait to see the 21st century extension of that style.

    P.S. The letters “P.S.” remind me of the word “piss” which reminds me of hearing you urinate, Mr. Leonard Maltin. A local bar has a couple of your annual movie guides available for reference and when I see your smiling face on the cover I think of your brown suit jacket flapping out to your side so that you can comfortably posture yourself for relief. God Bless.

  70. Lauren says:

    The movie didn’t even give the Driver’s name. Why would you expect a back story or explanation for why he was good with weapons?
    The character of the Driver is obviously someone that has lead an emotionally detached, guarded life due to the nature of his work, hence the blank stares and the exchange between himself and the man in the diner. Any emotional attachment ends up being a liability for someone leading that kind of life which was the entire plot of this film. No connection with Carey Mulligan’s character and there would be no story.
    I wasn’t blown away by this movie, but I think to say that the main character is “not very bright”, is a pretty weak generalization.

  71. John says:

    You missed one important part of the movie. Yo uask why he was talented with weapons out of nowhere? In the start of the movie Shannon, Bryan Cranston, tells Irene, Carey Mulligan, that Driver showed up at his door randomly 5 years ago. Leads me to believe this is not the first time Driver had been put in situations like this. He is also a stuntman. In Hollywood Stuntman have to work with the weapons, and know how to use them. Thanks.

  72. John G says:




    Again – Mr. Maltin is completely right – but us children of the 80’s films have a soft spot in our hearts for these overly melodramatic films with the maudlin teenage-angst music.

    The song everyone’s downloading is: “A Real Hero” by College (feat. Electric Youth). Sorry you couldn’t feel the music Mr. Maltin.

  73. John G says:

    Mr. Maltin perhaps had overly-high expectations?

    I do not disagree with his sentiment.

    And the film, rather than doing what Mann would have done, paused after it had begun ramping up in the second act – and not to ground or buttress or build up the drama for a final heart-wrenching third act.

    Bryan Cranston’s character was completely wasted.





    This had the style of “Mann’s” LA-set “Heat” or “Collateral” without any character depth.




  74. Pierre says:

    I don’t understand this idea that substance and style are always in conflict. The argument that one chooses a path of telling a rich, complex story is a false idea.

    This film looks great and I’m glad that Refn chose to pare down the dialogue and just show a bare bones story that didn’t have a tidy ending.

    I’m not sure where the basis for comparison is with this in storytelling, but let’s look at films like Fast Five or The Transporter. This film looks a heck of a lot better than that.

    Mr. Maltin’s opinions are always candid, and I appreciate them, but I never looked into the character to judge his intelligence or see people who reveal their inner emotions to me. That’s really not the point.

    The sound design, is pretty amazing and I think people will be surprised how little Refn shows and how much we really think we see, like the elevator scene or the motel assault. I’ve seen it twice and noticed that the gore is actually controlled compared to the sound.

    Complaining that an organge is not an apple is beside the point. If the film fails on its’ own terms then that’s fine. Failing on what you want it to be is another thing.

    See it if you like Melville, Mann, Hill and early Woo. Refn is coming on strong.

  75. lol says:

    That was a “burn”? I think he was trying to be funny.

  76. Nosh says:

    Hi Mr. Maltin,

    I have been reading your reviews for years. There’s always that one critic whose sensibilities seem to match your own more than those of any other. You’re that person for me. I guess I’m paying myself a great compliment by saying that. 🙂

    I love that you are genuinely concerned about ‘spoilers’ and never ramble on like some other noted critics tend to do.

    So I suppose this gushing comment is more accurately a fan mail saying thanks and expressing admiration for the work you do. Hope you keep at it for a long time! (and that you read the comments here… 🙂 )

  77. Randall A says:

    I feel very sorry for you Mr. Maltin, and I also love Saxby’s contribution here… Saxby, that was quite possibly THE most brilliant burn I’ve EVER encountered!!!

  78. Saxby says:

    Leonard, a couple years at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival you stood patiently in a long restroom line. I stood right in front of you (the man behind you talked your ear off about one of your books) and when we reached the restroom I yielded to you – I was waiting for a stall and you hit up an open urinal.

    As I read this review, I replayed my memory of the sound of your stream against the Castro Theatre’s porcelain.

    You are the only famous person whose urination I have heard. Thank you for holding a unique position in my life.

  79. Jason says:

    @ Jeffrey: I think it’s called integrity. I may not agree with Leonard on a lot of reviews but I’ve never doubted the sincerity of his analysis and opinion. I love the book ‘Drive’ so I’ll probably see this one anyway but it’s nice to go in with a perspective in mind, however contrary.

  80. Jeffrey says:

    I give Maltin credit. He sticks to his contrarian viewpoint.

  81. FM says:

    The thing is that once you get used to graphic violence, you realize that a lot of these movies do not really have anything else going for them except nice photography. They are just going from point A to B. I watched “Oldboy” the other day and had a similar reaction. I never really cared what happened to the main character or even to the villain.

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