It didn’t look good, that’s for sure. Ryan Gosling? An immediate red card to all who like real Manly Movies. When I watched Drive (2011), I expected a cool throwback to Michael Mann movies of old, like Thief (1981) or Friedkin’s To Live And Die In L.A. (1985). The promise of understated, 80’s inspired, cool theft was there. Instead what we got was pretentious garbage aimed at hipsters and college fags. A stuntman using his skills as a getaway driver? Bullshit, never happened. In a way, this movie delivers what ‘Drive’ promised on and failed to deliver on. It’s actually three movies stitched together, one part thriller (robbery), two parts drama (corrupt cops and their kids). Yes, it has Gosling in it, but only for 1/3 of the movie and his part of the movie is too well paced and good for even him to ruin it.
Act I is the strongest part of the movie, even despite featuring Ryan ‘shit actor’ Gosling. Now before we talk about the heisting business, the movie earns Manly points because for once, it’s a movie that makes a point about the rights of men. Gosling finds out he’s a father from a one night stand. The mother then tries parental alienation. It’s not something you see too much in liberal Hollywood – real men’s issues at the hands of increasingly entitled females. Gosling then, by chance, meets a redneck who encourages him not to give up, that he mustn’t let ‘the competition’ (stepfather) replace him. At any cost. He then schools him on bank robbing, the lengths the man is forced to go through after repeated humiliation. The set up – rob a bank, flee on a stunt bike (using acquired riding skills), provide for alienated son. This first act is what ‘Drive’ should’ve been. What’s more, because there are two more ‘mini’ movies to get through, it’s very well paced. The only problem is Gosling, who can’t even shout like a man (his voice breaks every time he screams at the bankers, sad.).
Act II enters drama territory, although to explain how the transition takes place would ‘spoil’ the movie. It features Bradley Cooper as a cop, dealing with his corrupt superiors. Now would a good corrupt cop drama/thriller would be complete without Ray Liotta, as the badass bent cop? Well fear not, he’s here. This second 45 mintues is, again, well executed for what it is. Although again, to say too much would destroy the movie. Act II is complete drama, and a study of consequences through the eyes of kids, 17 years after Gosling’s armed robbery antics. It isn’t bad, but it is a bit needless. This movie would have been better had it amalgamated the first two scenarios better and ditched the third. What this movie needed was a complete re-edit and the ruthless ditching of the ‘kids’ lecture of the end. There’s too much teen angst in this finale, who gives a fuck about that?
It’s a Manly Movie, just about. Ryan Gosling is kept too busy to really annoy, Ray Liotta is alpha as fuck and it has some pretty tight chase sequences. Not too bad, good time killer.