“Are you going to blog about this movie?”
Yet here I am.
Drive is disturbing. We debated afterwards: is the hyperviolence unnecessary? Should such depictions be censored to ward off further glorification of violence? Is the film art? What are the ethics of recommendation? Whose responsibility is it to consider the possible effects of viewing this film?
Scenes are consistently overdone. The musical score is outrageously sappy, underscoring the impossible juxtaposition of living a decently social life in the maw of the machine. The un-named principal character combines two extreme masculine ideals: he is both extraordinarily moral and primally violent – a classic hero stripped to the essence, a man of few words and stark actions.
The anonymity of the principal character represents everyone; even the innocent among us could become implicated in one way or another with the criminality of today’s society. At each and every moment we are at risk of being pulled in, taken down, consumed or killed by the impersonal clash of animalistic jockeying for position, power, status in whatever currency holds forth in the immediate situation. What can we do, mere individuals in a vast churning system of impersonalized rules, but drive by our own code?
The film presents no antedote, offers no salve or suggestion of change. The only response is to be driven to beat the course, to instinctively react in the instant, make the right move, face the consequences, turn and turn and turn again, speed up slow down nail the precise pace and time lane selection to come out – how? Victorious yet irreparably damaged. “I’m going somewhere… I won’t be able to come back.”
I am reminded of a scene in Control Room, a short while after the US Central Command’s Press Officer, Lieutenant Josh Rushing, realizes the humanity of Iraqis – the families and friends and compatriots of the enemy combatants – those people on the other side of the war. Lt Rushing muses that, unfortunately, we don’t yet live in a world that can do without war. Drive depicts war at the civilian level. Drive celebrates violence by suggesting its inevitability, and glorifies the performance of violence by cloaking it in a noble character.
Humanity can do better than be driven by the machine. We built this system; we can re-engineer it.