Drive (2011)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

I recall this film drawing quite a lot of hype and praise a few years ago, and of course, being me, I never got around to actually seeing the film to decide for myself if it was worth that praise. With SBS2 showing it tonight as part of their “ultraviolence” series, though, the opportunity presented itself and I decided it’d be remiss to pass it up (particularly since, as of this writing, it’s on the 1001 Movies list, although given the attrition rate of more recent films that may not last [update: gone as of the 2016 edition]). I knew practically nothing about it, too, beyond the fact it was supposedly an action film of some description directed by the guy who made those Pusher films and starring Ryan Gosling, and that apparently the latter played a character with no name and not much more dialogue. Which proved to be the case… with the possible exception of the “action film” bit. Apparently the film was originally planned as a big Hollywood blockbuster, and I probably imagined (insofar as I thought about it at all) that’s what the film indeed was. Except it’s not, really… somewhere along the way the thing went from a big-budget major film to a comparatively cheap ($15m, or a lot less than these things tend to cost nowadays) indie job, and the end result is about as relatively understated as films of this sort probably get. I say relatively because, well, SBS ran it in their “ultraviolence” series for a good reason. It may be less heavy on the big flashy action than most Hollywood films of its ilk (and most of its viewers probably expected), but JESUS FUCKING HELL CHRIST when it does come to the outbursts of violence, Winding Refn surely delivers (most notably the elevator head-stomping), and the general underplayed tone of the film just makes them feel that much nastier. I’m not 100% convinced the film is quite the masterpiece some think it is, but it certainly was rather more interesting than I’d kind of thought it would be…

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