Plot is what separates human beings from animals

Just watched the 2011 film Drive. It was a quiet, stylish movie. But I also didn’t like it. Nothing in the film managed to match the inventiveness and style of the chase scene during the first five minutes. It’s like the opposite of every martial arts movie: they started with a tense, frenetic action sequence and then everything else was kind of ho-hum.

My main complaint was that the plot of the movie was so by-the-numbers. Oh, there’s a guy living next to a woman. Let’s have them engage in a quiet romance. Why? Oh, because they’re there. Oh, the woman’s husband is coming back from prison? Oh no! Oh, the husband slips back into his old ways? Oh, the husband gets caught up in something bigger than he can handle?

There was a sense of inexorableness to the whole movie that seemed to reduce its characters to pawns. They did not feel real to me, because they didn’t struggle against their fate. I always felt like if we really had a guy who was as smart and compassionate and ruthless as the Ryan Gosling character appears to be, then he’d be going about things in a much different way. He wouldn’t be so ‘Aw shucks’ and wouldn’t constantly focus on the tactical at the exclusion of the strategic. He’d have some grander vision for how to escape from this situation. 

But instead he sort of bumbles along, and always just manages to escape by being fast and, apparently, knowing how to murder people with whatever implement is near to hand.