Drive

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Drive Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Crime drama is exciting, well-made, and shockingly violent.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 42 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry" seems to the best way to describe the movie's message, such that it is, and it's not very hopeful. The main character upsets his stripped-down, carefully planned life and opens his heart just a bit but finds that it results in nothing but pain and violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character leads a life of crime, and his only good deed involves more crime. He also falls in love with a married woman, and all of his actions result in violence.

Violence

This movie starts off slowly and quietly, but soon there are astonishing amounts of bloody, gory, shocking violence. A woman's head is blown off with a shotgun. The main character beats up a man and stomps on his head until it squashes like a pumpkin. He slaps and threatens a woman. He also threatens a man with a claw hammer and a bullet. Also slicing and stabbing, shooting, murders, and characters beaten up and bloodied. A small boy isn't exactly shown to be in danger, but in one scene, he displays a bullet that some bad guys have given him as a warning.

Sex

Two or three topless women are on view for a long time during a nightclub scene. The main characters kiss, even though the woman is already married. Some minor flirting and/or innuendo.

 
Language

The main character doesn't swear, but other characters do frequently, using words like "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "a--hole," "hell," and more. Characters also use the middle finger gesture and racial slurs like "chink" and "kike."

Consumerism

Some products appear or are mentioned as background. A Coca-Cola sign is shown more than once in a pizza parlor. A scene takes place at a Denny's restaurant, and the name of the character's car, a Chevy Impala, is mentioned several times over a police scanner.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character doesn't drink or smoke, but supporting characters are occasionally seen smoking cigarettes or drinking socially. One key character mentions several types of drugs -- offering them to the main character -- but they're never shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this superbly made crime drama (which won the prestigious Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival) starts off quietly but eventually contains shocking amounts of violence, including a woman's head getting blown apart by a shotgun blast and the main character stomping a man's head until it squashes like a pumpkin. Language is also very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y." Several women are topless in one long scene, and the two main characters have a romantic relationship even though she's already married. The main character is a criminal without many redeeming qualities, but he's still fascinating.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysarge123 February 5, 2015
Adult Written byKaren4 April 28, 2012

WAY too violent

The violence in this movie is WAY over the top. Kids should NOT see this movie -- although the acting was good, the violence is horrible. Do yourself a favor... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byTom Cruise Fan July 5, 2015

"Drive" movie review

"Drive" is a very polarizing movie. Upon its release, "Drive" was not well received by the movie-going audience. Many panned it. However, cr... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJustin Rivera March 18, 2014

Landmark in Art-house Cinema

Winding Refn is a visual storyteller. This film is extremely carefully crafted to the point of flawlessness. Drive is a masterpiece, it's absolutely mesmer... Continue reading

What's the story?

The "driver" (Ryan Gosling) drives stunt cars for the movies by day -- and by night he hires out his services for criminals who need getaway cars. He works with hard-luck-but-cheerful mechanic Shannon (Bryan Cranston) on both jobs. He's incredibly skilled, lives a quiet, simple, Zen-like life, and has all his bases covered -- until he meets his pretty neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). When Irene's husband is released from prison, the driver reluctantly agrees to help him on a job that will get him out of debt and out of trouble. But everything goes wrong, and the fallout leads back to a pair of sinister thugs (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman). Can the driver steer a way out of this mess?

Is it any good?

Danish-born director Nicolas Winding Refn isn't exactly a household name, but he might be after DRIVE; he might also elicit comparisons to Quentin Tarantino, which would be entirely deserved. Drive is steeped in movies, especially moody 1980s films by Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, and William Friedkin, as well as any genre films about stoic, secretive heroes -- but at the same time it feels like something new. Its style prevails over its substance, but what style!

 
But that's not meant to disparage the film's substance; clearly Refn adores actors, and he finds many tiny moments of warmth, adoration, and humor within the film's steely surface. In one impeccably framed scene, the driver and the girl merely smile at one another, hinting at untold depths. Every actor delivers his or her best work, especially the colorful villains and sidekicks. Only the movie's extreme, shocking violence could get in the way of total adoration for this sublime piece of genre work.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of the movie's extreme violence. How does it compare to what you see in horror movies? Which is more upsetting? Why?

  • Is the main character a "hero"? Are viewers meant to find him sympathetic even though he's a criminal? What makes "bad guy" characters compelling?

  • What is the movie's attitude toward women? What are the female characters like? Are they three-dimensional?

  • Is the little boy in this movie ever in true danger, or is the danger only suggested? What's the difference?

Movie details

For kids who love action and crime stories

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