Flick or Skip: Drive (Opens 16 September 2011)

On this edition of Flick or Skip, we look at an already award-winning action/crime film. Why is there even a question of potential quality? Take this is the most positive light possible. The film won for direction. There are well-directed films that wind up being just ok because of other elements, such as screenplay, editing, or acting. That's more what we're looking at here. Our subject is the star-studded film Drive from director Nicholas Winding Refn. Using only the trailer as a guide, we'll determine whether or not it's worth paying movie theater prices to see it this weekend.

That's the green band trailer. That means it's the trailer the MPAA approved to be shown in front of any movie release, regardless of rating, in America. Even without the more extreme content of the red band trailer, it works brilliantly as a marketing tool.

You learn who the major characters are, what the logline of the film is, and how intense the film will be. Ryan Gosling, as the driver, seems to be doing something new and excited with this performance. This isn't the type of role he typically plays and he seems to be living in his character. Carey Mulligan, as the love interest, doesn't seem to have as much to do. The other easily identifiable major player is Christina Hendricks working for the bad guys. I have a feeling her screen-time will be short live but extremely memorable. Did you see her pinned to the bed essentially pleading for her life with information? Shocking.

The logline--broad strokes version of the story--is pretty standard for this kind of crime drama/action film. A man with a double life is hired to do a job that's actually a set up to destroy him. He's gaining too much attention for his skills as a driver. Now he needs to take revenge by diving headfirst into the criminal underworld. The difference here is the caliber of the production and the focus of the story. It looks like it might be character, rather than action, driven. That's good. We need more action/crime films like that.

The one thing that concerns me is how brutal this film looks. The film is not joking around when the trailer shows a man about to have a bullet hammered into his skull. How much is it actually going to show and does that level of violence hold up as essential to the story? You can create all the shock value you want in a film. If it's gratuitous, it's not worth it. I'm going to take the Cannes award for Best Director to mean that Refn stops just short of going over the top in this aspect.

I know I want to see Drive for the cast of actors alone. But should you buy a ticket this weekend? I think that really depends on one factor: do you like action crime films? It's been a good minute since we've had one that looks this good released nationwide. If you like this genre and can handle the violence, you'll probably like this film. If you're on the fence about it because of the subject matter, you might not be up to this level of intensity.

Drive looks like a good film. How good is the debatable factor. I've been fooled by shiny crime/action trailers before. I think this one actually has the goods to back it up.

What do you think? Are you seeing Drive this weekend? Sound off.

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