I’ll Never Understand Critics

I ended up watching ‘Drive’ because I’d seen all these reviews saying how great it was. Having watched it, I’m largely unmoved by it. In recent days I have found it frustrating that ‘John Carter’ gets dismissive reviews while a tedious bit of crime fiction gets such rave reviews. What is going on out there in critic land? Don’t they see enough movies like this? Or is their appetite for petty crime movies so great it is an insatiable hunger?

Or maybe it’s all the gritty realism and the understated naturalism that borders on autism? At least the film isn’t filled with fetish objects, but it is emotionally stilted as they come.

What’s Good About It

There’s always something good in any film. I’m having trouble saying what it is in this film, off the top of my head.

That’s it, …speaking of head. The scene where Ryan Gosling kicks a gangster to death, in the lift – and he’s so angry he keeps stomping on the head until the skull caves in with a nice squelchy sound effect. That was good. I felt his fury in that scene. That bit of sadism felt good.

It’s also good to see a film just show LA in the most ordinary light for a change. No glamour, just streets and streets and streets.

What’s Bad About It

The idea. That’s right. This is yet another film that has an angle on the idea that the perfect crim would be to steal money that is already stolen. This seems to be a meme that is doing the rounds in Hollywood because it’s the core idea of ‘Deception’ starring Ewen McGregor and Hugh Jackman for instance, and the central plank of the Ocean’s 11-13 movies with Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

The idea has the only two benefits of making the victims of the heist deserving, and the cops don’t get involved. But in most instances, it always gets ugly and this film spends a good deal of time exploring that ugliness.

The other bad thing is the directing. It’s way too self conscious in looking for a style and yet lacks tempo and all the odd angles don’t really contribute to the narrative. The performances are strange. It’s hard to tell what these people are thinking or whether it’s just one of those odd moments engineered by odd camera angles to cover a two-hander.  I’m sure the director and the cinematographer thought they were doing ground-breaking work. I kind of wish they’d just gone with the basics. It would’ve made the movie go by quicker.

I don’t usually think in a way that gives films stars but I’ll make an exception for this one – 1/5.

What’s Interesting About It

That it garners such good reviews.

Oh I don’t know. It’s not the worst film I’ve seen, but it’s pretty ordinary and tedious for me. That so many people find it compelling surprises me. But then, I can imagine people said the same thing about ‘Star Wars’ or ‘The Maltese Falcon’  so I’m totally aware that I’m in the minority with this film.

What may be the most interesting thing about this film is just how uninteresting these characters are. The film sets out to show us what a hero-driver he is in the first act and then promptly abandons the importance of this plot point in pursuit of the petty criminal misadventure. The girl next door is literally the girl next door with seemingly little interests. She seems to be a nice person, but that’s about it. Her husband is a convicted criminal who comes out of jail just in time to be a plot complication and before we know it, he’s dead. The bad guy boss played by Ron Perlman seems to be just another movie bad guy. The kid is just this kid; nothing special or endearing or charming.

It’s as if the writers of the screenplay sort of squeezed these characters out from the last end of a toothpaste tube from where these kinds of characters are produced. The story is like 10 pot devices looking to hook up together. If that sort of thing interests you, then this might be your movie too.

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