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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: June 10th, 2022 Movie Release Year: 2011

Drive - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (UK Import)

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: Billy Russell
With Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, star Ryan Gosling effectively reinvented his onscreen persona from handsome romantic comedy lead to laconic antihero. Refn’s trademark color saturation and an incredible score (plus incredible soundtrack to match), Second Sight gives Drive a worthy treatment on 4K UHD Blu-ray with an excellent HDR transfer, Atmos audio, and plenty of extras to keep you busy. Highly Recommended

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265 Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
100
Aspect Ratio(s):
2.40:1
Audio Formats:
English: Dolby Atmos DTS-HD MA 5.1
Release Date:
June 10th, 2022

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Every once in a while, a movie comes out that redefines “cool.” It seems to have a ripple effect on every piece of pop culture in its wake–from other movies paying tribute to it, to music, to TV, and everything else under the sun. Think of the waves of parodies to follow movies like The Matrix or Pulp Fiction. They had their own unique look down pat. In 2011, that movie was Drive. The silent antihero. The 80s synth-wave. The slow-mo. Drive was iconic and we’re still feeling its effects to this day - Stranger Things, The Guest and every type of vaporwave nostalgia owe Drive a huge debt of gratitude.

Drive is totally self-aware and knows how clever it is, but never devolves into a parody of movies that it lovingly homages. If anything, its self-awareness is part of its overall earnestness. Drive is a movie with heart. The reason the movie is thrilling isn’t because of car chases, action or mayhem. It’s thrilling because we care about what happens to its characters.  When the nameless Driver (played by Ryan Gosling) stomps a man’s head in, it’s not a “Whoa, cool!” moment. It’s layered with tragedy, knowing that his quickness to employ gruesome violence is part of his nature and represents a point of no return for him.

Driver is a stunt driver for the movies by the day, and at night he’s a getaway driver for robberies. His rules are simple: “You give me a time and a place, I give you a five-minute window. Anything happens in those five minutes and I'm yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute on either side of that and you're on your own.” In the opening chase sequence (in a movie called Drive, I think it’s awesome that there are only two car chases), Driver, instead of punching the car like Bullitt and swerving through crowded streets, plays a game of cat and mouse with the police. He accelerates to punch out his car to an advantage, waits in the shadows, listens to the police scanner, and keeps ahead of his pursuers by a couple of steps psychologically. And in a moment of too-coolness, he pulls the car into a crowded area, puts on a hat, takes off his jacket, and blends in with the crowd. Job done. Cue the main title sequence.

Irene is his neighbor in an apartment complex you don’t normally see in the movies.  In the movies, if a character doesn’t have a lot of money, they still always live somewhere with a nice view and modern appliances. The apartment complex in Drive is something realistically and quintessentially LA.  It looks lived in. It looks real. Drive is to LA as Star Wars is to its own fantastical sci-fi universe.  

When Driver meets Irene, they have an instant attraction. He falls for her, but she has one problem: A husband named Standard (Oscar Isaac, who continues to be one of the best living actors today) is due to be released from prison. Driver agrees to help Standard with some problems he’s having, with gangsters who say he owes them money. Driver arranges a means of pulling off a heist, a one last heist, to get the gangsters the money that they say is owed to them, and then after that, the agreement is that they leave Standard, and his family, alone for good. There’s internal strife between organized crime between Bernie (Ron Perlman) and Nino (Albert Brooks) and the “family” back home. Driver unwittingly gets in the middle of it and becomes a complication that would be better off erased.

Drive remains Winding Refn’s most accessible movie, while still rife with the directorial trademarks and flourishes he’s known for. There are long, hallucinatory stretches of silence. Apparently, huge swaths of dialogue were done away with when he signed on as director, taking a red pen to the script.  Refn loves to tell a story visually, to the point of obsession. There’s an expression sometimes in writing that he seems to have taken to heart: Why tell it when you can show it?  

As focused on visuals as it may be, Drive actually seems to be having fun with the actors and performances, watching someone like Bryan Cranston as Driver’s good friend and mentor, Shannon, limp around, chain smoke and espouse life lessons in a gravelly voice.  The ensemble cast is amazing.  Christina Hendricks shows up in a bit role to help with the heist to get Standard out of trouble.  Albert Brooks plays against type as a sympathetic villain.  Ron Perlman plays Ron Perlman, beautifully so. 

Drive is one of those “love it or hate it” movies. If you’re expecting it to be a movie in the tradition of the Fast and the Furious series, only more serious, and with Ryan Gosling as the lead, you’re probably going to be incredibly disappointed. If you go in to the movie knowing that it’s going to be an offbeat, show-offy work from a European director and is less concerned with cars and more of a contemplation on violence, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.  

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Second Sight presents Drive on a single 4K UHD Blu-ray housed in a case with new artwork–the scorpion from Ryan Gosling’s jacket in the film. Drive is presented in 4K from a new master approved by director Nicolas Winding Refn and in Dolby Vision, graded by the film’s original colorist. Viewers have their choice between a new Dolby Atmos mix, or the previous DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix from its former Blu-ray release.

Video Review

Ranking:

Drive is gorgeous, bathed-in-neon picture from start to finish. And while it’s always been an attractive movie, from its theatrical release to previous Blu-ray editions, this 4K master, courtesy of Second Sight, takes it to another level. The dark/light levels are incredibly adept, Drive will have scenes take place during the darkest of nights (shot on a DSLR with prime lens and aperture as wide as it can go), and during the brightest of days in sunny Los Angeles. No matter what extreme, it always looks natural and balanced.

Given that this is a Nicolas Winding Refn picture, there are many shots with an overdramatic use of color, saturating the shot with bright reds, blues and greens (sometimes all of those colors at the same time) and it never looks busy or messy. Like Gosling’s appearance in Blade Runner 2049, Drive is a movie you can use to show off your home theater’s capabilities and push it to its limits. It is presented in Dolby Vision, and graded by the film’s original colorist. It is gorgeous all the way through and has very few flaws I was able to catch upon multiple viewings. Drive is a sight to behold and Second Sight’s work here is absolutely stellar, among some of the best work of any 4K UHD release. And while cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel has done excellent work before (Three Kings and its exaggerated newspaper print look), Drive may be his masterpiece. 4.5/5 

Audio Review

Ranking:

While the previous Blu-ray release was no slouch in the soundtrack department, with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that our reviewer called demo-worthy, Second Sight’s release on 4K features a Dolby Atmos mix that helps elevate and widen the soundstage a bit. It’s not leaps and bounds above its predecessor, but in certain scenes, the enhancement is noticeable and welcome. In the beginning cat-and-mouse chase scene, the front, height speakers and rear speakers work in a wonderful unison to simulate a circling police helicopter. When the main title sequence blasts to life, “Nightcall” by Kavinsky fires across the entire soundstage, (front, back, and from above) enveloping the listener in a bubble.

As stated before, the original 5.1 mix is no slouch, and for anyone who may not have equipment compatible with Dolby Atmos, you won’t be missing too much outside of a few select sequences. Drive has incredible audio when implemented, but it’s not a wall-to-wall sound design with intricate effects. It is mainly a quiet, subdued picture with a hypnotic score courtesy of Cliff Martinez, which will do just as well on a 5.1 setup. On both mixes, dialogue is given priority, always coming in crisp and clean, and a higher dynamic range on the audio allows for music to blast triumphantly when it needs to (or play softly in a contemplative moment), and sudden violent explosions shock the viewer with loud cracks and thundering bass. 4.5/5

Special Features

Ranking:

Like its previous Blu-ray release, while there aren’t hours and hours of features to keep you entertained, or a booklet with essays like you’d find in a Criterion release, the features that are there will help deepen your understanding of the film and familiarize you with the process of making this modern-day masterpiece.

  • Exclusive Audio Commentary by Nicolas Winding Refn and film critic Peter Bradsdhaw - This one is the highlight of the bunch. Refn, through a series of questions posed by Peter Bradshaw, details his creative process, including his love of American films (the pink cursive title was inspired by Pretty in Pink). Refn also explains that his films contain a unique, boisterous color palate due to his color-blindness, and it’s a necessary exaggeration for his own benefit.
  • Drive - A Conversation with Nicolas Winding Refn, editor Matt Newman and composer Cliff Martinez (HD, 1:15:09) 
  • Cutting a Getaway - A new interview with Matt Newman (HD, 19:28)
  • 3 Point Turns - A new video essay by Leigh Singer (HD, 12:46)

Drive is an oddity, in that it’s a hypnotic contemplation on violence in reality, and violence in film, with action sequences few and far between, but boasting demo-worthy visuals and audio during those tense, white-knuckle moments. It’s both a thinker and a shower, allowing quiet moments to simmer with seriousness and louder moments to be more impactful and consequential. Second Sight’s work here is, as usual, incredible and their release of Drive on 4K Blu-ray is Highly Recommended. - 4.5/5