Drift Blu-ray Review

There are a couple of reasons surf movies don’t come around too often and don’t sell tickets like, say, baseball movies. One is that most viewers couldn’t name a single famous surfer like they could a famous baseball or football or soccer player. Another is that the majority have no connection to the sport. It’s a local thing—put a Nebraskan at the plate and they’ll swing for the fence; hand them a surfboard and watch a wave of confusion wash over their face.


The latest attempt is DRIFT, set in the early 1970s (not too long after Bruce Brown’s hugely influential surf documentary THE ENDLESS SUMMER, and not too long before John Milius’ eventual cult favorite BIG WEDNESDAY, came out) somewhere along the Australian coastline. The focus is on two brothers, the older Andy (Myles Pollard, MCLEOD’S DAUGHTERS) and the younger Jimmy (Xavier Samuel, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE), who dodge their potentially troubling upbringing and take up surfing, which will no doubt be a bodacious hobby.


But it becomes more than just a way to kill an afternoon. It becomes a lifestyle, and soon the Kelly boys, with the help of their mother, Kat (Robyn Malcolm, OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE), launch a business selling gear to natives. On their side is JB (Sam Worthington, CLASH/WRATH OF THE TITANS), a filmmaker with an anti-establishment stance and a babe (Lesley-Ann Brandt, Starz’s SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND)—who eventually plays part in a love triangle—on his arm. Still in their path, though, are a skeptical bank manager, a roughneck biker (Steve Bastoni, 15 AMORE) and the local police, who suspect there may be drugs involved in the surf scene.


And so DRIFT is about starting a small business and fending off naysayers as much as it’s about catching the big wave and winning the big competition (something has to occupy the third act, right?). And while there’s not nearly as much time in the water as the promotional art suggests, when the boys do hop on their boards, the photography (by Geoffrey Hall, who shot CHOPPER for Andrew Dominik early in his career) is absolutely terrific and captures the thrill of being in the ocean and riding a mile-high wave. (Another element to keep our attention is the soundtrack, which features Creedence Clearwater Revival, T. Rex, the Black Keys—despite their not having formed nearly 30 years after the movie takes place—and more.)


DRIFT is co-directed by Ben Nott and Morgan O’Neill (the latter of who directed THE FACTORY, with John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter) and “inspired by actual events,” which here serves as a marketing gimmick, as none of the Kelly boys or Drift (the store that gives the movie its name) actually existed. Regardless of whether or not many of the plot’s occurrences actually happened won’t really matter to most. If there’s a surfboard and a gnarly wave on the cover, it will only attract a certain audience. The rest will stay away or play it safe and go with POINT BREAK.


Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. DRIFT has a very crisp look to it, especially when the action shifts to the surfing scenes. Overall, this transfer catches the vibe that goes along with the surf community.

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. This is a very strong audio transfer, with clean dialogue, excellent beach/ocean sounds and a great soundtrack.

Behind the Scenes (15:08): This featurette uses interviews (with co-directors Morgan O’Neill and Ben Nott, star Sam Worthington and more), clips and location footage to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the making of DRIFT.


Also included is UltraViolet.


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