[4.0 stars] Drive (2011) on IMDb

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Ryan Gosling plays "Driver", an otherwise anonymous stoic stuntman for the movies. He enjoys a cordial relationship with his mechanic employer, Shannon (played by Bryan Cranston), and they dabble in providing transportation services for thieves. They have hopes of breaking into NASCAR, funded by a couple of Jewish (!) gangsters, who are played menacingly by Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks(!). Driver has a budding romantic relationship with Irene (Carey Mulligan) and a budding fatherly relationship with Irene's cute son Benicio.

But then Irene's husband gets out of the slammer. A nice enough guy, for a crook, but he owes money to a mobster. The mobster also threatens Benicio and Irene; that's enough to drag Driver into a heist. But things go terribly wrong, and bodies start piling up.

Rated R for (among other things) "strong brutal bloody violence", and they are not kidding in the least. The violent scenes are brief, but they are explicit and unglamorous. Definitely for the kids, maybe not even for you.

Other than that, the pacing is artsy and languorous between the action scenes. The cinematography is nice, with some stunning aerial shots of L.A. at night. The plot is relatively complex, with lots of double crosses and hidden motives. If you're used to Albert Brooks from Finding Nemo … well, he's different here.

If you see it, watch for "Doc" to show up to yank some shotgun pellets out of Driver's arm: that's Russ Tamblyn, friends, Riff from West Side Story.

Last Modified 2012-09-24 4:56 AM EDT