Drive movie review: Sushant Singh Rajput’s Fast & Furious clone is one of Netflix’s worst mistakes ever
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Jacqueline Fernandez, Boman Irani, Pankaj Tripathi
Director: Tarun Mansukhani
The only reason Drive exists is because someone watched all the Fast & Furious films, ended the binge with Ocean’s Eleven and Italian Job and thought ‘If they could do it, so can I’. How the idea was bought by a studio as market-savvy as Dharma is something we will never know. However, they cut their losses in time and wriggled out of a theatrical release, handing it off to Netflix instead.
The Sushant Singh Rajput and Jacqueline Fernandez movie now joins the ranks of Chopsticks and Brij Mohan Amar Rahe – films that leave you wondering if the execs of streaming giant were having an off day or if the problem lies deeper.
Watch the Drive trailer here
Things are so dire that you know from the first shot that this is one drive you should have avoided. It begins in the worst way possible – with an in-your-face product placement and a cut-price Fast & Furious feel to it. Blondes dancing in hot pants and shirtless men showing off their six-packs as cars vroom around them – you get the picture.
Jacqueline Fernandez rules over this hub when she is not plotting heists. The ‘kachra’ in her engine is a man called King who is out-heisting her, and if good caper films are anything to by – without much finesse. Her latest plan involves a robbery in Rashtrapati Bhawan where an unscrupulous Director of Monetary Restrictions (Vibha Chibber) – now that sounds like a post-demonetisation designation, but I digress – and her deputy Hamid (Pankaj Tripathi) have hidden their ill-gotten gains. However, PMO is onto King and has put their best man on the job, Irfan (Boman Irani).
All good caper films are a combination of plot finesse and suavity. Heist films, as a genre, come with their implausibilities – you admire the good ones for them, the terrible ones grate. In all the double-crossing and triple-crossing, Drive drops quite a few beats. While there are some moments of thrill where you are truly invested in the film, they are so rare that you marvel when they come.
However, it is in the suavity department that Drive is truly lacking. Sushant – who has some truly good performances to his name – has a smug, pouty expression stuck on his face throughout Drive. Try as he might, he just cannot wipe that off and start acting. Jacqueline simply doesn’t have the acting chops to carry off the Mata Hari role makers have dreamt up for her. Pankaj and Boman try but realize somewhere in the middle that the effort is just not worth it.
But then, why should they put in all the work when everyone is having a ball. The lyrics and dialogues appear to have been written in English and when they couldn’t find anyone who can speak passable Hindi, they dialed for Google Translate. There is a song called ‘Karma Badi Kameeni Hai’ whose literal English translation ‘Karma is a B**ch’ may actually ring a bell. Then Sushant mouths this stilted ‘Mujhpar kissi ka adhikaar nahi hai’; why not make him say ‘Nobody owns me’ and be done with it?
The film’s CGI is real deal-breaker. The moment Drive steps on the gas and chases kick in, the film starts looking like a bad video game. The only response to the god-awful visual effects could be helpless laughter. The stakes are so low that Drive never recovers – especially as they come at what are supposed to be the most thrilling moments in the film. The fact that there are scenes ‘inspired’ by Fast & Furious does not help. While I cannot give you more without ruining the moments, you will know when you see them and then rue the discount version.
Drive is a lot like the name of its villain – terribly dated. You could build up men named King when they were fighting off others called Lion (or, to be precise, Loin). The film, with its gyrating blondes and street racing, is trying so hard to be the uber-cool racing-heist film but its soul is stuck in the 80s. If it has a soul, that is.