The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 100 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac
Directed by: Nicholas Winding Refn
Music by: Cliff Martinez
Written by: Hossein Amini – based on the book by James Sallis
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 31, 2012
"Get in. Get out. Get away"
Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver for movies by day and moonlights as a wheelman for criminals by night. Though a loner by nature, “Driver” can’t help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband. After a heist goes wrong, Driver finds himself driving defense for the girl he loves, tailgated by a syndicate of deadly serious criminals (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman). Soon he realizes the gangsters are after more than the bag of cash and is forced to shift gears and go on the offense.
“Driver” is a wheelman for hire, who by day works as a mechanic at a local garage and part time stunt driving for movie productions, by night he utilizes his slick driving skills steering getaway vehicles for armed heists. Driver operates by strict codes that keep things impersonal with few variables and narrow windows. That is until he meets Irene, an attractive young mother, and her son Benecio. Irene and Benecio stir something in Driver and he finds himself spending more and more time with them. Although contrary to the code Driver can’t help being drawn to them even after learning that Irene’s husband, Standard (Benecio’s father), is in prison. Things quickly unravel when Standard is released from prison and exposes Irene and Benecio to the dangerous underworld of his past. When Driver discovers Irene and Benecio have become the targets of mob related retaliation he must move quickly (as only he can) to protect them thereby exposing himself. Sometimes breaking the code isn’t worth it. Sometimes it’s the only option…
As a fan of Clint Eastwood’s “the man with no name” trilogy, specifically, “Fist full of dollars”, I couldn’t help but make a comparison to Drive. The similarities rest in the theme about an inherently good, extremely capable and nameless drifter/criminal that has survived by adhering to a set of rules that preclude personal involvement. When he breaks his own code by coming to the aid of a vulnerable woman he is forced not only to expose himself but will teach those responsible why you should never mess with the man with no name. Drive is dark, tense, violent and very well executed. It’s an arthouse film that eschews the typical framework associated with action/thriller narratives that have elements of romance. It’s pretty simple by design but engagingly visceral as it pushes the boundaries of propriety. The characters aren’t complex but integrate nicely within the story’s construct. The pacing is taut, the action is involving and the thrills are memorable as we are treated to muscle cars featured in slickly infused stunts that are fun to watch. Ryan Gosling handles Driver’s “man of few words…” with aplomb and gives a spot on performance. I could watch Carey Mulligan all day long and Bryan Cranston/Albert Brooks are solid of course. Drive is more than meets the eye and makes for a fresh, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining film that I found just plain cool.
The rating is for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Drive comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 36 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
This video presentation has a filmic quality that doesn’t always lend itself to razor sharp images however resolution is excellent as both people and objects are rendered with clear definition that at times is meticulously resolved. The color palette isn’t a diverse one and sticks mainly to sepia and de-saturated neutral tones that render a cooler appearance. Flesh tones are on the bland side but fit right in with the visual style of the video. Contrast is bold which adds dynamic emphasis to sequences containing bright elements. Blacks are dynamic, inky and slightly crushed. Scenes containing uneven and/or dim lighting reveal discernible but occasionally limited detail in shadowy backgrounds and darkened areas. Images have a pristine quality that when coupled with the video’s high resolution makes for terrific looking presentation.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix does an excellent job rendering the film’s soundtrack. Dialogue has excellent intonation and clarity which allows even subtle changes in vocal pitch to be appreciable. This is a well balanced audio presentation that quite often engages the entire system. Dynamic range is excellent and the soundstage has an open expression that allows its elements to extend well into the room. Discrete rear channel activity isn’t extensive however the action based elements provide an enriching level of immersion which is generated by a seamless sound field (the opening segment sounds excellent). The chase and extended fight sequences are empowered by near field sound effects, robust dynamics and thumping techno rhythms that energize the room. The LFE channel is frequently active and reproduces the film’s music and extended lower bass frequencies with visceral impact that has excellent tactility.
- (HD) I Drive – 5 minute featurette
- (HD) Under the hood – 11 minute featurette
- (HD) Driver and Irene – 6 minute featurette
- (HD) Cut to the chase – 4 minute featurette
- (HD) Drive without a Driver: Entretien Avec Nicholas Winding Refn – 25 minute featurette
- BD-Live enabled
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Drive is a surprisingly simple film that works thanks to superb direction and a well crafted script based on the book by James Sallis. It’s a dark, tense, and violent arthouse film that eschews the typical framework associated with action/thriller based narratives that contain elements of romance. The pacing is taut, the action is involving and the thrills are memorable as we are treated to muscle cars featured in slickly infused stunts that are fun to watch. Star Ryan Gosling is on top of his game and gives a strong performance in the lead role. Drive makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring terrific audio/video quality and average but worthwhile bonus supplements. Drive is more than meets the eye and makes for a fresh, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining film that comes highly recommended.
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Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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