- Drive (2011 film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn Produced by Michel Litvak
Screenplay by Hossein Amini Based on Drive by
Starring Ryan Gosling
Music by Cliff Martinez Cinematography Newton Thomas Sigel Editing by Matthew Newman Studio Bold Films
Odd Lot Entertainment
Marc Platt Productions
Distributed by FilmDistrict Release date(s) May 20, 2011(Cannes)
September 16, 2011 (United States)
Running time 100 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $13 million Box office $63,963,122 
Drive is a 2011 American crime drama film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling as the principal character, with Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, and Albert Brooks. Although Drive shares several characteristics with the similarly-named 1978 Walter Hill car-chase film, The Driver, it is actually adapted from the 2005 James Sallis novel of the same name, with a screenplay by Hossein Amini.
Like the book, the film is about a Hollywood stunt performer (played by Gosling) who moonlights as a getaway driver. Prior to its September 2011 release, it had been shown at a number of film festivals. At the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Drive was praised and even received a standing ovation. Winding Refn won the festival's Best Director Award for the film. Reviews from critics have been positive, with many drawing comparisons to work from previous eras. Praise has also been given to Gosling's and Brooks' performances. The director has said influences came from Bullitt (1968) and The Day of the Locust (1975); and that Drive was a tribute to Alejandro Jodorowsky.
The unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling) lives in a low-rent apartment building and works as a mechanic, stunt driver, and getaway driver. His driving skills and precision are evident when he helps two burglars evade police and split up at the Staples Center's crowded parking garage. The Driver works anonymously, never for the same people twice, and allows them only five minutes to do their business. Shannon (Bryan Cranston) owns the garage where the Driver works and sets up his other jobs. Shannon borrows $300,000 from mobster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and buys a stock car for the Driver to race. Bernie agrees to back the plan after he sees the Driver's skills. Bernie's business partner is a Jewish mobster named Nino (Ron Perlman) who once had Shannon's pelvis broken when he found out Shannon overcharged him.
The Driver helps his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos), when Irene has car trouble at a local market. Later, Irene has her car towed to Shannon's garage, and the Driver gives her and Benicio a ride home. The Driver begins spending more time with Irene and Benicio and even has dinner with them after Irene's husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), comes home from prison. Standard owes "protection money" to an Albanian gangster, who goes by the name Cook (James Biberi), dating back from his time in prison. Cook beats Standard and threatens to come after Irene and Benicio if Standard does not rob a pawn shop.
The Driver agrees to help Standard placate Cook by driving Standard to and from the pawn shop. Blanche (Christina Hendricks), a woman associated with Cook, also participates in the heist. The job goes wrong, and Standard is shot dead by the pawn shop owner as he returns to the car. The Driver leaves with Blanche and the money, but a car follows him and tries to run him off the road. The Driver eludes the other vehicle, and he and Blanche hide out in a motel room. The Driver discovers that the amount of money is much more than he expected for a pawn shop robbery. He threatens to hurt Blanche if she does not tell the truth. She tells him the car belonged to Cook, and they planned to double-cross the Driver and Standard and take the money for themselves. Suddenly, two of Cook's men attack them in the motel room, killing Blanche with a shotgun blast to the head and injuring the Driver before he kills them both.
The Driver confronts Cook in his strip club and learns that Nino has been behind the heist all along. Nino later explains to Bernie that the money from the pawn shop belonged to the East Coast Mafia. Fearing retaliation if it becomes known who was behind the robbery, Bernie stabs Cook to death and tells Nino to take care of the Driver while he takes care of Shannon. The Driver agrees to give Nino the money in exchange for Irene and Benicio's safety. However, Nino sends a hitman to their apartment building. The Driver and Irene unknowingly ride the elevator with the hitman, but when the Driver sees the hitman's gun, he kisses Irene then kills the hitman by stomping in his head. Bernie finds Shannon attemping to flee town and slits Shannon's wrist in his garage with a straight razor. The Driver lures Nino to a beach in his car and t-bones him. With Nino wounded and weakened, the Driver drowns Nino in the Pacific Ocean. Bernie calls the Driver, telling him to meet at a Chinese restaurant. The Driver then makes a final phone call to Irene, to tell her he was leaving and thanking her for her time with him. At the restaurant Bernie promises Irene and Benicio's safety in exchange for the money, but not the Driver's. In the parking lot, Bernie stabs the Driver in the abdomen as he pulls the money from the trunk of his car. The Driver then stabs and kills Bernie, leaving his corpse on the ground next to the satchel of money. Later that evening, Irene knocks on the Driver's apartment door but there is no answer. The film ends with the Driver driving through the night.
- Ryan Gosling as Driver
- Carey Mulligan as Irene
- Bryan Cranston as Shannon
- Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose
- Oscar Isaac as Standard Gabriel
- Christina Hendricks as Blanche
- Ron Perlman as Nino
- Kaden Leos as Benicio
- Jeff Wolfe as Tan Suit
- James Biberi as Cook
- Russ Tamblyn as Doc
The novel Drive by James Sallis was published in 2005. Producers Marc E. Platt and Adam Siegel of Marc Platt Productions optioned the novel after Siegel read a review of it in Publisher's Weekly. The Driver intrigued Siegel because he was "the kind of character you rarely see anymore - he was a man with a purpose; he was very good at one thing and made no apologies for it." The character interested Platt because he reminded him of movie heroes he looked up to as a child, characters typically portrayed by Steve McQueen or Clint Eastwood.
Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Hossein Amini adapted the novel for the screen. He felt it was a rare book to receive from a studio because it was short, gloomy and like a poem. Because the novel does not present a linear story but has many flashbacks and jumps around in time, Amini found the adaptation challenging. He felt the non-linear structure made it "a very tricky structure" for a feature film.
A film adaptation of Drive was first announced in early 2008, with Neil Marshall set to direct what was then being described as "an L.A.-set action mystery" that would be a starring vehicle for Hugh Jackman. Universal Studios, who had been trying to make a film version for years, was also onboard. By February 2010, Marshall and Jackman were no longer attached to the project, and Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn was set to direct with Ryan Gosling in the leading role. When Ryan Gosling signed on, he was allowed to choose the director. A fan of his work, the actor chose Refn. When Refn read the first screenplay for Drive, he was more intrigued by the concept of a man having a split personality, being a stuntman by day and a getaway driver at night, than the story itself.
Drive's producer Marc E. Platt contacted Gosling about the film. He explained, “I have this list that I’ve created of very talented individuals whose work inspire me – writers, directors, actors whom I have to work with before I go onto another career or do something else with my life. Near the top of that list was Ryan Gosling." Platt heard back from Gosling around 48 hours later. Gosling was attracted to the script because it had a "very strong character" at its core as well as a powerful love story. The actor had always been interested in doing an action-type movie, but often found today's films to focus more on the stunts than on its characters. He was able to choose the director, which was a first for the actor. "And I thought 'It had to be Nicolas.' There was no other choice," he says. However, Gosling was unsure if Refn would do the project as it was not like anything he had ever done before.
When it came to selecting other cast members, Refn did not cast actors based on casting tapes or auditions. Instead, he required they meet him in person at his house. Carey Mulligan was in negotiations to star in Drive in August 2010, and she was cast soon after as a Los Angeles-born Anglo mother raising her 7-year-old Latino child. She was interested in working with Refn because she was a fan of his films Bronson and Valhalla Rising. The role was originally written as a Latina woman in her late 20s. Refn made script adjustments to accommodate Mulligan in the role. The filmmaker had not seen any of Mulligan's movies, but upon first seeing her, he recalled, "I knew we had our 'Irene'". He felt her casting would cement the love story in a more engaging way. "It made it more of a Romeo & Juliet kind of love story without the politics that would in this day and age be brought into it if you had different nationalities or different religions," Refn explained.
Bryan Cranston plays the role of Shannon. A fan of Breaking Bad, he was one of the first actors Refn looked to cast. Knowing the actor had other opportunities, the director tried to interest him by asking how he would like to develop the role. After not hearing back, Refn called him, at the very same time that Cranston was writing on a piece of paper the pros and cons of doing Drive. Moved by Refn's interest, he accepted the part. Christina Hendricks plays the small but important role of Blanche. "Trying to work in a more reality arena for a character like that," Refn originally auditioned porn stars for Blanche. However, he was unable to find anyone who was good enough acting-wise. After meeting with Hendricks, he decided to cast her, feeling her "powerhouse" persona would click with the character.
Albert Brooks plays the foul-mouthed, morose Bernie Rose. When Refn suggested him, Gosling agreed but thought the actor would not be up for playing a character who is violent and sullen, or for appearing in a film that he did not work on himself. Brooks accepted the role to go against typecasting and because he loved that Bernie was not a cliché. "There are six people you could always get to play this kind of part, and I like that the director was thinking outside of the box. For me, it was an opportunity to act outside the box. I liked that this mobster had real style. Also, he doesn’t get up in the morning thinking about killing people. He’s sad about it. Upset about it. It’s a case of, 'Look what you made me do.'"
Nino, a key villain, is portrayed by Ron Perlman, one of the last actors to join the cast. Regarding the casting of Perlman, Refn said, "The character of Nino was originally not particularly interesting, so I asked Ron why he wanted to be in my movie when he’s done so many great films. When Ron said, ‘I always wanted to play a Jewish man who wants to be an Italian gangster’, and I asked why, and he said, ‘because that’s what I am – a Jewish boy from New York’, well, that automatically cemented it for me." Oscar Isaac portrays a Latino convict named Standard who is married to Irene and is just released from prison a week after Irene meets The Driver. He found the role to be a bit unappealing and chose to turn the archetypal character into something more. He said of the role,
"As soon as I sat down with Nicolas, he explained this universe and world of the story, so we made the character into someone interested in owning a restaurant, someone who made some wrong decisions in his life, ending up in a bad place. By making ‘Standard’ more specific and more interesting, we found that it made the story that more compelling."
Filming and cinematography
The film was made on a production budget of about $13 million and shot in various parts of Los Angeles, California. Locations were picked by Refn while Gosling drove him around the city at night. Under Refn's request, Los Angeles was picked as the shooting site due to budget concerns. Refn moved into a Los Angeles home and insisted that the cast members and screenwriter Amini move in with him. They would work on the script and film all day, then watch films, edit or drive at night. Refn requested that the editing suite be placed in his home as well. With a shooting script of 81 pages, Refn and Gosling continued to trim down dialog during filming.
Its opening chase scene involving Gosling's character was primarily filmed by Refn within the car's interior. In an interview, Refn revealed the idea for this was to execute a "dive-ration of sharks", which involves never leaving the vehicle during a car chase so that the audience can see what's happening from the character's point of view. Tight on money and time, he shot the scene in two days. With two different set-ups prepared in the car, the director found it difficult to have mobility with the camera, so he would then switch the camera to two additional set-ups nearby. As downtown Los Angeles had changed for the better, Refn avoided certain areas to preserve the gloomy atmosphere. Additionally, the scene was shot at low-angles with minimal light.
One scene in the film that has no dialog is the elevator sequence, "a series of stunning visuals and graphic imagery that’s a prime example of how the film conveys so many ideas and emotions through images rather than words." For this, he spoke to Gaspar Noé and asked him how he did the head-smashing scene in Noé's Irréversible (2002). Crossing the line from romance to violence, the scene starts off with The Driver and Irene tenderly kissing. What they share is really a goodbye kiss, as he then becomes a "werewolf", violently stomping the hit-man's head in. It is during this scene that Irene begins to see the Driver in a new light.
Car scenes were filmed with a "biscuit rig", a camera car rig developed for the film Seabiscuit (2003), which allowed a precision driver to steer the car, freeing Gosling to concentrate on acting. Consistent with Refn's usual visual style, wide-angle lenses were heavily used by cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel. Handheld camerawork was avoided. Preferring to keep the film more "grounded" and authentic, Refn also avoided use of computer-generated imagery (CGI). Unable to afford CGI due to budgeting restrictions also played a factor in this decision. Although many stunt drivers are credited, Gosling did a number of stunts himself, after completing a stunt driving car crash course. During production, Gosling re-built the 1973 Chevrolet Malibu used in the film, taking it apart and putting it back together. Filming concluded in November 2010.
Beth Mickle was hired as Drive's production designer on Gosling recommendation after working together on 2006's Half Nelson. Prior to filming, Mickle supervised a crew of 40, routinely working 16-to-18-hour days. Her most expensive film to date, Mickle felt freer since, unlike Half Nelson, "there was another zero added to the budget." They built Gosling's character's apartment building, which included a hallway and elevator that linked his unit to Irene's. Mickle also made a strip club and re-created Brooks' character's apartment in an abandoned building. Turning a "run-of-the-mill" Los Angeles auto body shop into a grandiose dealership was one of the most challenging. Painting the walls an electric blue color, she brought in a showroom full of vintage cars.
Using an Arri Alexa camera, the film was shot digitally. According to Drive's executive producer Lancaster, the film contains abundant, evocative, intense images of Los Angeles that are not often seen. "From the little seen back streets of downtown LA to the dry arid outposts on the peaks of the desert landscape surrounding it, Siegel has re-imagined an LA all the way down to the rocky cliffs by the sea." Drab background settings include the Southern California commercial strip. As the Los Angeles Times pointed out, whenever gleaming buildings are shown, it is because they are being seen from a far distance. Refn shot those scenes from a helicopter at night in Bunker Hill, Los Angeles.
While Drive is set in the present day, it carries a heavy 1980s atmosphere that is cautiously set from beginning to end and is underlined not only by the vehicles or music and clothes, but also by its architecture. The parts of the city seen in the Valley and by downtown Los Angeles are actually cheap stucco and mirrored glass, which has been carefully edited to leave out mostly any obviously new buildings.
Style and inspiration
Journalists and reviewers have called Drive a "classic Los Angeles heist-gone-wrong story" that is a "tribute to the genre of car films" in the vein of movies like Bullitt (1968). A character study, themes Drive examines consist of "loyalty, loneliness and the dark impulses that rise up even when we try our hardest to suppress them." It combines comic gore, film noir and B-movie aesthetics, and Hollywood spectacle, resulting in "a bizarre concoction...reminiscent of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive...Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, and [with] angst-laden love scenes that would not be out of place in a Scandinavian drama". Other comparisons have been to the works of Walter Hill, John Carpenter, Michael Mann, Nathanael West, J.G. Ballard and Mike Davis. According to Refn, Drive is dedicated to filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and includes some of Jodorowsky's existentialism.
Drive has been called a tough, hard-edged neo-noir art house feature, extremely violent and very stylish, with European art and grindhouse influences. According to Refn, Drive turns into a superhero film during the elevator scene because that is when The Driver kills the reprobates. Drive also references 1970s and 1980s cult hits such as The Day of the Locust (1975) and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985). Other influences can be seen in the neon-bright opening credits and the retro song picks – "a mix of tension-ratcheting synthesizer tones and catchy club anthems that collectively give the film its consistent tone." Drive's title sequence is hot-pink, which was inspired by 1983's Risky Business' editing table.
Refn's main inspiration for Drive came from Grimm's Fairy Tales, and his goal was to make a movie that was structured like a fairy tale: condensed in its storytelling and with archetypal characters. Refn sees The Driver as a knight who roams around the countryside searching for people to save. To play with the common theme of fairytales, The Driver protects what is good while at the same time killing degenerate people in violent ways. Refn was also inspired by films such as Point Blank (1969), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), and The Driver (1978). Jean-Pierre Melville’s crime productions influenced the cinematography. Amini's script propensity imposes "a kind of sideways moral code," where even those who comply with it are almost never rewarded for their efforts, as seen when The Driver helps Shannon with Irene and her son's best interests in mind. Within their vehicle's, the characters not only make escapes or commit murder, but try to obtain peace and search for romance.
The film's main character, The Driver, has been compared to the Man With No Name, a character Clint Eastwood portrayed in the Sergio Leone westerns, because he almost never speaks and communicates mostly non-verbally. The Driver's meager dialogue is not designed to present him as tough, but to soften him. Refn chose to give The Driver very little dialogue and instead have him drive around listening to pop music, taking control when it counts. One reviewer noted that what The Driver lacks in psychology, he makes up through action and stylish costuming. The Driver's wardrobe was inspired by the band KISS and Kenneth Anger's 1964 experimental film Scorpio Rising. He wears a satin jacket with a logo of a golden scorpion; Refn sees the former as the character's armor and the logo a sign of protection. According to reviewer Peter Canavese, the jacket is a reference to the fable of the scorpion and the frog, mentioned in the movie, which in turn evokes the use of the fable in the Orson Welles film Mr. Arkadin.
Music and soundtrack
Most of its ethereal electronic-pop score was composed by Cliff Martinez, whose ambient work on the sex, lies, and videotape soundtrack Refn was a particular fan of. The score contains tracks with vintage keyboards and bluntly descriptive titles. Refn wanted electronic music for the film and to have the music occasionally be abstract so viewers can see things from The Driver's perspective. He gave composer Martinez a sampling of songs he liked and asked Martinez to emulate the sound, resulting in "a kind of retro, 80ish, synthesizer europop". Editor Matt Newman suggested Drive's opening credits song – "Nightcall" by French electronic musician Kavinsky and featuring Lovefoxxx.
As Refn was going through mixer Johnny Jewel's catalog, he picked out "Under Your Spell" and "A Real Hero" because he thought of Drive being a fairytale. During Drive's climax, "A Real Hero"'s keynote melody, about becoming "a real human being, and a real hero", refrains because that is when The Driver changes into both those status'. At first, Jewel worried that the latter might be too literal but soon realized it is used in Drive "in the exact same way that I was feeling it when I wrote it. He definitely got the nuance of the song, and understood what it was supposed to mean, and he wanted to give that emotion to the viewer, that same feeling."
Thinking of music in terms of basic elements, Jewel would tell the director that for certain scenes, it should not have bass since, as an earth tone, it usually is used for a more emotional or ominous part. Jewel thought the music should be upper register and relaxing for the "dreamlike" scene. To help himself with the writing process and conjure up melodies, the mixer would perform a procedure where he highlighted many phrases from the novel, then printed those words in large font and hung them on his walls or drew pictures during viewings of Drive.
Sold as Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), it was released in CD format to stores on September 27 2011, by Lakeshore Records. Prior to that however, thanks to viral reviews, such as those found on social networking website Twitter, the soundtrack has sold well on iTunes climbing as high as number four on the sales charts. So far, the 19 track album has amassed positive reviews. James Verniere of the Boston Herald gave it an "A" grade, stating "The cool crowd isn’t just watching Drive; they’re listening to it, too... The Drive soundtrack is such an integral part of the experience of the film, once you see it, you can’t imagine the film without it." Allmusic reviewer James Christopher Monger selected opening track "Nightcall", "I Drive", "Hammer" and "Bride of Deluxe" as highlights on it. Digital Spy's Mayer Nissim gave it a four out of five star rating, finding it to be as important as the film itself. She stated the album beginning with non-Martinez songs instead of mixing it up for a more enjoyable listening experience cost it a star.
Notably the song An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno on his album "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks", is also featured in the movie, mostly as the "love" theme, however this song is not on the retail soundtrack.
No. Title Composer(s) Length 1. "Nightcall" Kavinsky, Lovefoxxx 4:19 2. "Under Your Spell" Desire 3:52 3. "A Real Hero" (feat. Electric Youth) College, Electric Youth 4:27 4. "Oh My Love" (feat. Katyna Ranieri) Riz Ortolani 2:50 5. "Tick of the Clock" Chromatics 4:48 6. "Rubber Head" Cliff Martinez 3:08 7. "I Drive" Cliff Martinez 2:03 8. "He Had a Good Time" Cliff Martinez 1:37 9. "They Broke His Pelvis" Cliff Martinez 1:58 10. "Kick Your Teeth" Cliff Martinez 2:40 11. "Where’s the Deluxe Version?" Cliff Martinez 5:32 12. "See You in Four" Cliff Martinez 2:37 13. "After the Chase" Cliff Martinez 5:25 14. "Hammer" Cliff Martinez 4:44 15. "Wrong Floor" Cliff Martinez 1:31 16. "Skull Crushing" Cliff Martinez 5:57 17. "My Name on a Car" Cliff Martinez 2:19 18. "On the Beach" Cliff Martinez 5:57 19. "Bride of Deluxe" Cliff Martinez 3:57
Originally planned as a blockbuster, Drive was eventually re-labeled as an independent film. Prior to principal photography, Refn went to the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in an effort to sell the rights to Drive and released promotional posters for the film. In November 2010, FilmDistrict acquired North American distribution rights. The owners were so eager to get their hands on Drive, they started negotiating to buy it before seeing any footage, believing it could appeal to people who enjoy a genre movie, as well as the arthouse crowd. The film had a release date of September 16, 2011, in the United States.
The film premiered on May 20, in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. At its first showing to the media, it received abundant praise and received "some of the best responses of the festival", but one positive review said it "can't win, won't win" Cannes's top prize. It was greeted with hoots and howls of joy from the media, with viewers cheering on some of the scenes featuring extreme violence. Drive also received a 15 minute standing ovation from the crowd. Xan Brooks of The Guardian called the film his guilty pleasure of the 2011 competition, labeling it an enjoyable affair. "Over the past 10 days we've witnessed great art and potent social commentary; the birth of the cosmos and the end of the world. Turns out what we really wanted all along was a scene in which a man gets his head stomped in a lift. They welcome it in like a long-lost relation", he wrote. The festival named Refn best director for Drive.
Drive was also screened at the Los Angeles Time's Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) on June 20 at its gala screenings program. It was among more than 200 feature films, short projects, and music videos, from more than 30 countries, to be shown at the festival. After Red Dog's release date was pushed up by several days, Drive replaced it as the Melbourne International Film Festival's closing night film. Additionally, the movie was screened during FilmDistrict's studio panel presentation at the San Diego Comic-Con function. A secret screening for Drive was held at London's Empire Big Screen during the middle of August. In September, Drive screened as a special presentation during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, alongside another movie starring Gosling, The Ides of March.
Marketing done for Drive suggested it to be a film composed of many action scenes. A Michigan woman named Deming has sued both FilmDistrict and Emagine Theaters located in Novi, Michigan in October 2011 due to suffering "damages", feeling that the previews were misleading. Filing under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, she stated its distributer marketed Drive as similar to the Fast and the Furious film series, and, in a bait and switch act, gave her a motion picture with little racing. Furthermore, Deming accused Drive of containing antisemitic themes. Deming has asked for the cost of her ticket to be refunded, and later plans to file a class action lawsuit to prevent future false film advertising.
Drive has received critical acclaim. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 92% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 211 reviews, with an average score of 8.2/10, making the film a "certified Fresh" on the website's rating system. On Metacritic it has a weighted score of 79/100, based on 40 critics, which it ranks as "Generally favorable reviews". Gosling's and Brooks' performances, as well as Drive's aesthetics, were generally the most praised aspects of the film by movie critics. Rolling Stone writer Peter Travers considered this film to be the type to evoke polarized reception among its viewers. CinemaScore polls reflect this sentiment, with audiences grading it with a "C-" average, noting its slow, meditative nature. IMDb audience rankings, however, placed Drive at an average of 8.2 out of a possible 10 while 73% of those polled by Rotten Tomatoes reported to have "liked" the film.
Peter Debruge of Variety praised Drive for standing out from other similarly themed films whose visuals and narration fall flat. However, Debruge expected more driving scenes and found Mulligan to be a misfit for Irene. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called Drive a "tasty, if sketchy, modern noir with car chases and bloody action that should turn the trick for genre-seeking audiences." Noting Drive's "wonderfully assembled" cast, he said Gosling takes on the right behavior for his role, making a bid to enter the ranks of Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood. In contrast to Debruge, McCarthy found Mulligan to be a charming choice for Irene. Reviewing it for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert wrote: "The entire film, in fact, seems much more real than the usual action-crime-chase concoctions we've grown tired of. Here is a movie with respect for writing, acting and craft. It has respect for knowledgable moviegoers."
Movieline's Stephanie Zacharek thought Drive defined the current standard for motion pictures, and Mike D'Angelo of the The A.V. Club gave it a "B+" rating, saying he will remember at least half a dozen of the movie's scenes for the rest of his life. Chris Lackner of the Vancouver Sun echoed a comment similar to Zacharek's, finding Drive to be a refreshing different change of pace, avoiding Hollywood's trite film formula routine. Awarding the film a four out five star rating, Orlando Sentinel journalist Roger Moore deemed Drive to be "the quietest car picture ever" and, based on what he had seen with this production, said he was looking forward to future collaborations between the star and director. Jessica Winter of Time said the scene involving the twofer car crash makes Drive for a moment turn into "a lost entry in the Halloween franchise – Michael Myers Hits the Beach.
Karen Durbin of Elle praised the chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan, pointing out that Drive does not conform to typical male-entertainment. She also rebuked Refn for underusing Hendricks. Grading it a "B+", Entertainment Weekly reviewer Lisa Schwarzbaum clashed with Durban's opinion on the former, finding the two to never click. Despite giving Drive a high star rating, The Arizona Republic's Randy Cordova criticized how the plot and characters all easily come together: "It's all too neat; someone like John Sayles (Lone Star) could have linked these elements in a far more compelling way." Giving Drive four out of five stars, The Guardian's Xan Brooks observed the film to be quite "self-consciously retro" with a series "of cool, blank surfaces".
In his polarized analysis of the film, The New York Times columnist A. O. Scott believed its supporting performances saved Drive from tedium. "Drive is somber, slick and earnest, and also a prisoner of its own emptiness, substituting moods for emotions and borrowed style for real audacity. This is not to say that the movie is bad – as I have suggested, the skill and polish are hard to dispute – but rather that it is, for all its bravado, timid and conventional." Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turran praised several aspects of Drive but overall disliked the violence executed in it. Understanding that the level of violence is not uncommon for a Refn film, he stated that it was overdone, disquieting and "throws you out of the picture, diluting the mood rather than enhancing it."
A negative review came from New York magazine writer David Edelstein, who referred to the film as "higher trash" and deemed it to be as inane as Conan the Barbarian. Edelstein went on to chide Gosling for his choice to appear in the production and believed most viewers would watch solely for the popularity of Drive's actors. Another negative analysis came from the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips. Finding its pre-credit sequence to be one of the year's most gripping openings, he felt Drive goes from compelling in the beginning to "a muddle of ultraviolence, hypocrisy and stylistic preening" by the end. Neil Rosen of NY1 echoed the latter comment, adding that the violence shown in Drive came off as lackluster.
Playing at 2,886 locations on about 3,100 screens in the US, Drive made slightly more than $4 million in ticket sales on its opening day. While numerous R-rated action and horror films usually make less on their first Saturday, Drive had a "healthy" 11% increase. It performed lower than FilmDistricit's weekend expectations – grossing $11 million and taking third place at the box office, despite being the widest new release. Drive was originally predicted to supersede Contagion from second place with a gross of about $12 – $14 million. Box Office Mojo analyst Brandon Gray felt prior to release that its "hipster factor" may alienate audiences like True Romance (1993), Domino in 2005, and 2007's Eastern Promises and Shoot 'Em Up did.
Following the weekend results, analyst Ray Subers, from the same publication, said that this film's commercial performance is yet another "example of how endless Internet hype is rarely a strong indicator of mainstream appeal." By its second weekend, Drive remained within the top 3 at many theaters, but wound up at 7th place with a 50% drop in revenue. FilmDistrict now plans over the succeeding few weeks in terms of the number of locations to fuse in each market so the per-screen averages for core theaters in "top urban markets" will continue to be high. Currently, the picture has amassed a total of $33,393,586 from US box office and $19,000,000 from international box office.
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Cannes Film Festival May 22, 2011 Best Director Nicolas Winding Refn Won
- The Driver
- Heist films
- "Press kit from Cannes" (PDF). FilmDistrict. 2011. http://www.festival-cannes.com/assets/Image/Direct/040781.pdf. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lim, Dennis (May 22, 2011). "Cannes Q. and A.: Driving in a Noir L.A.". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/cannes-q-and-a-driving-in-a-noir-l-a. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- ^ a b "Drive (2011)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=drive2011.htm. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- ^ Martelle, Scott (August 7, 2011). "James Sallis' noir outlook in 'The Killer is Dying' and 'Drive'". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/books/la-ca-book-james-sallis-profile-20110807,0,70060.story. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- ^ a b "Drive Press Kit: The Inspiration". FilmDistrict. 2011.
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- ^ a b Gray, Brandon (September 16, 2011). "Forecast: 'Lion King' to Roar Again". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. http://boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3272&p=.htm. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
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