Drive: An Action Movie that Explores the Human Psyche

Drive is a truly unique action movie.  Source:
Drive is a truly unique action movie.

“The Scorpion and the Frog” is an animal fable that seems to have first emerged in 1954. On account of its dark portrayal of morality, there have been many popular references since then in popular culture, including notable films, television shows and books.”

The fable weaves a tale in scorpion asks a frog for a safe passage across a river. The frog agrees, after the scorpion reveals that attacking the frog would result in both of their deaths. However, halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog. As the frog begins to drown he asks the scorpion for an explanation. The scorpion couldn’t help himself, its nature defines its actions.

This idea of unintentionally hurting the people around you has lead to many people, including gangsters, ex-prisoners, religious figures and of course the nameless protagonist of “Drive”, to sew a scorpion patch onto their clothing or tattoo the arachnid onto their skin as a subtle warning of their unfortunate nature.

This brings us to what  is debatably one of the best movies ever,“Drive”. “Drive” received a variety of reactions, possibly the most polar opposite seen in recent years. It got a C- from viewers at the time and yet received fives from almost all professional film critics. The professionals hail it as one of the greatest movies ever made, while the average Joe was confused and disappointed.

The viewer’s disappointment can be attested  to two things: the advertising and expectations. Both made people believe that they were in store for a darker, “The Fast and The Furious”, type film. However, the movie they got was a slow, yet gripping thriller, with a single gunfight (that lasts less roughly ten seconds) and two chase scenes. This lack of violence was not exactly what viewers were anticipating.

The movie starts with a nameless stunt driver speeding in a frantic getaway from the scene of a robbery. Through smart anticipation and movements, the director, Nicolas Winding Refn, molds what can be considered  the best car chase-ever. After his escape, and an incredible credits sequence, showcasing the city of L.A. at night, we get a look at the driver’s day job as a stuntman and mechanic.

After befriending a woman named Irene and her young son, he begins to see an easy life ahead of him as a family man. But after her husband is released from prison and is forced into robbing a pawn shop, Driver’s life spirals out of control. When his two accomplices die violent deaths, his already troubled psyche snaps.

While it doesn’t appear to be the most original plotline, the execution makes it gripping. After the halfway point the film continues to rise in speed, turning into one of the most thoughtful climaxes in cinema history. The excellent lighting, timing, camera angles, acting, set pieces, tension and meaning behind the violence combines to create an exceedingly well crafted film.

The violence, as previously mentioned, is jarring when it occurs. The most notable scenes that include violence are shocking, intense and realistic. Yet, with motivations and even remorse, they are thought provoking and provide a mature and disturbing look at the human psyche and motivation in general.

The actions depicted for the viewer are up for interpretation by critics, as all of the small, yet intentional details are. All of this combined mixes into a flawless film, and possibly one of the best ever.

-Jon Rose

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