Has anyone heard of this guy Ryan Gosling? He’s been in a few movies I think, kinda handsome or whatever, looks like he might cry at any moment like the mom from 7th Heaven. You know who I’m talking about? No? Okay well, the director of Drive wants to blow this man hard — with teeth even — and he dragged me along for the ride. This movie should’ve been called Ryan Gosling’s Vacant Stare. This movie should’ve been called Extended Nondescript 80’s Music Video. This movie should’ve been called Eye Rape Ryan Gosling For Two Hours (If That Appeals To You — or Don’t Cause I Mean, It’s Whatever). It felt like Lost in Translation had a three way with Collateral and Snatch — but a loveless apathetic three way in which none of the participants are really into it, but some creepy old guy paid to watch them, so they’re like, ‘Let’s just get this over with.’
That was a sort of harsh dismissive way to start a “review.” This movie has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, which disturbs me because it makes me feel like my reaction is incorrect or that I failed to view it in the right mindset. I want to be a part of the zeitgeist, I want to like good things, and honestly, I enjoyed a huge portion of the first half of the movie. The opening scene with its suspenseful slinking car chase reassured me that this would be a realistic tightly crafted action flick. Then it slowly devolved from a Pains of Being Pure of Heart music video into a gory pulp flick with close-ups of heads exploding, heads getting stamped to bits, and filleted arms spraying blood, and something about this tonal shift — the hyper stylized nature of it, the coldness, the emptiness, the pointlessness — caused me to recoil.
Ryan Gosling just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who stamps on heads till they crack open like pumpkins. Even when Carrie Mulligan’s boyfriend confronts him about spending time with his girlfriend while he was in prison, he retains a dopy smile on his face; in fact, the camera locks onto his dopy smile for a disconcertingly long time. Even when he’s about to take a hammer to a guy’s jaw, there’s no trace of anger or concentration. His near muteness, his perpetually blank expression — it didn’t strike me as cool so much as dumb, like one of those austere hipster kids who seems mysterious but actually has nothing to say for his existence other than, “So what’s your major?” That’s probably an overreaction, but it seems true. Maybe I’m just jealously lashing out at Ryan Gosling due to bitterness/ loneliness/ out of control cynicism; it’s hard to tell.
Also, the women in this film have nothing to do other than look pretty. Carrie Mulligan exists solely to be coveted and defended chivalrously. Christina Hendricks exists (SPOILER ALERT) solely to be super fine before having her head blown off like a ravioli filled balloon. When Ryan Gosling calls to say, “I’m off to kill some gangsters. Probably won’t be coming back alive,” Carrie Mulligan stares vacantly into space and says, “Okay.” That’s all you have to say? “Okay”? How about, “Hey don’t do that. We can just go to the police, explain what’s happening, and get ourselves into witness protection,” or “Please don’t! I love you! Let’s run away together!” No, just, “Okay, I don’t have a single thought in my pretty little head other than a vague gloominess.”
To combat my growing indifference, I imagined Louis C.K. cast in place of Ryan Gosling, a middle-aged man who’s terrified of everything, confused by the plot holes, wondering why Albert Brooks won’t just take the million dollars and leave him alone — I mean, he keeps trying to give them the money, and they keep trying to kill him for the money. It’s nonsense. Louis C.K. would’ve acknowledged this; he would’ve called Albert Brooks and said, “Look, just take the money and leave me alone. I mean, if you’re going to try and kill me even if I give you the money — and why would you risk that after I killed like five people — I’ll just dump it all off the balcony of a football stadium while yelling ‘Make it rain!’ because f–k you, man.” Casting Louis C.K. would also lend the romance a more poignant tragic quality because, of course, Carrie Mulligan would have no attraction to a middle-aged comedian who spends ten minutes describing his balls. After all, I don’t think there’s anything particularly surprising or interesting about two attractive people hooking up, although if you can place yourself vicariously in the position of either Carrie Mulligan or Ryan Gosling, which I can’t, I’m sure it’s comforting in a fluffy sugar-sweet way like a bowl of warm marshmallows on a cold night.
Then I imagined a fat Ryan Gosling driving a smart car with a concentrated facial expression, fat Ryan Gosling smiling creepily at Carrie Mulligan, fat Ryan Gosling shooting guns and stomping on people’s heads, fat Ryan Gosling trying in vain to fit a mask over his enormous head, fat Ryan Gosling wearing skinny Ryan Gosling’s much too small scorpion jacket, fat Ryan Gosling ranting in Alfred Hitchcock voice at Walter White, fat Ryan Gosling chasing after Albert Brooks, getting winded, sitting down, laying down, taking a nap on the beach, roll credits. It was perfect.
In conclusion, Drive left me feeling dismayed and disheartened, but worst of all: it caused me to contribute to the gallons of (virtual) ink already spilled in regards to the man-god Ryan Gosling. It had to happen sooner or later I suppose. Might as well get it out of my system now.