Friday, June 9, 2023

Flashback Friday: The Opening of, "Drive," Still Mesmerizes

Back in 2012, I observed that, "Drive," was a strange and enjoyable film. I would continue to argue it is a great flick and serves as a fabulous showcase for the acting talents of Ryan Gosling and one of Director Nicolas Winding Refn's better films (if not the best). The entire movie is full of bizarre and gasp-inducing moments (especially some crazy violence) but for my money, the first nine or so minutes are the best due to how it portrays something we've seen in so many films--a car chase--in such a weirdly constrained way. We watch/listen as the Driver (seriously, he is never named) explains if he's given a time and place he'll provide a five-minute window for people and then get them the Hell out of wherever they are safe. After witnessing him getting the car for his next gig we cut to him picking up two men committing a robbery and driving around trying to avoid the police. Basically, the whole scene is shot in the car, and it's wild.

Normally a big car chase will have a camera outside a car, watching as it weaves in and out of traffic in a dramatic fashion. Instead, there is a strange feeling of claustrophobia as we practically sit in the car at the mercy of Gosling's character's skills. We feel trapped in this four-door escape craft as it speeds around the city and then finally ends up in the parking garage for a basketball game right as it concludes and the crowd floods out of the arena--making it all but impossible for the police to figure out where the thieves have gone. At that moment when Gosling steps out of the car and casually strolls off, we finally emerge from the vehicle with him, feeling our own surreal sense of victory and relief that we made it out. Not even 10 minutes have passed in this movie and it's already hooked you in. The opening credits proceed to roll and you realize this crazy ride is just starting. The entire movie is worth viewing, but man, that opening is truly enrapturing.

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