Wednesday, June 15, 2022

DRIVE (2011) (Second Sight Films 4K UHD Review)

DRIVE (2011)

Label: Second Sight Films
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Cert. 18
Duration: 100 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 2160p UHD Widescreen (2.39:1) 
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman

In the super-stylish pulpy noir-thriller Drive (2011) Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049) stars as a nameless mechanic/Driver who moonlights as both a Hollywood stunt driver and a criminal-for-hire getaway driver. He works at a car shop run by Shannon (Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad), a guy with the worst sort of luck, who recruits the Driver for a start-up racecar enterprise, and recruits mobsters Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks, Defending Your Life) and his unhinged  partner Nino 'Izzy' Paolozzi (Ron Perlman, Hellboy) to make a large investment into the start-up company. 

The Driver is a man of very few words, but when he meets his new neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman), whose husband, Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac, Moon Knight), is in prison, he takes a liking to her. They start to hang and something blooms between them, he even takes a shine to her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos), but their happiness is cut short when Standard is released from prison. The ex-con finds it hard to go straight as he owes a debt to some criminals, and to that end the Driver teams-up with Standard to pull off a robbery. The job turns into a deadly double-cross, with the unintended consequence of straining things with Shannon's criminal  financiers, with tragic consequences for all. 

This  is a seriously bad-ass flick, highly stylized and wickedly well-shot, think Michael Mann's Manhunter by way of Walter Hill's quite similar The Driver, with Gosling set on simmer and about to boil over from the very start of the film. The visuals are absolutely dazzling with neon lit night scenes and nail-biting car chases that will leave your head in a spin, it's just kick-ass stuff from start to finish. The moodiness and superb style, combined with the absolutely sublime score and synth based songs make for a completely engrossing thriller that holds up to repeat viewings.

Audio/Video: Drive (2011) arrives on region-free 4K UHD in 2160p UHD framed in the original 2.39:1 widescreen, sourced from a brand new 4K master produced by the original post production company and approved by Nicolas Winding Refn, with Dolby Vision HDR color-grading by the film’s original colorist. Like the film itself it's simply sublime, the colors pop so nicely with the HDR-enhanced color grading with deeper more refined black levels, superior contrast and very pleasing depth and detail. Audio comes by way of a new Dolby Atmos mix or the original DTS-HD MA 5.1 with optional English subtitles.  The Atmos dominates throughout, the score and synth songs have a lot of depth, dialogue is clean and has plenty of strength, and the roar of the cars and gun fire have a pleasing full-bodied presence. 

This standard release version includes the exact same disc-extras as the Limited Edition package,, these include a new exclusive Audio Commentary by Nicolas Winding Refn and Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw, the 70-minute Drive: A conversation with Nicolas Winding Refn, editor Mat Newman and composer Cliff MartinezCutting a Getaway – a new interview with Mat Newman, and the 3 Point Turns video essay by Leigh Singer. The single-disc release arrives in black keepcase with a singe-sided sleeve of artwork.  

Special Features

- New 4K master produced by the original post production company and approved by Nicolas Winding Refn
- UHD presented in Dolby Vision HDR graded by the film’s original colorist
- New exclusive audio commentary by Nicolas Winding Refn and The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw
- Drive: a 70-minute conversation with Nicolas Winding Refn, Editor Mat Newman and Composer Cliff Martinez
- Cutting a Getaway – a new interview with Mat Newman
- 3 Point Turns – a new video essay by Leigh Singer

Second Sight's UHD is fantastic, I only wish we had a new interview with Gosling looking back at the film, but the presentation and new extras are terrific and the A/V presentation is definitive - this is an essential modern noir-thriller.