Drive is undeniably slick – boasting fantastic performances from everyone involved and fusing together beautifully shot scenes with bundles of action.
Ryan Gosling plays a stuntman who, in his spare time, works as a getaway driver – wheeling crooks and thieves around the city. His rule is simple: “If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes, then I’m yours, no matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you’re on your own.” It’s repeated throughout the film and is a stark display of this character’s poise and control.
Gosling’s character (known only as ‘Kid’) sparks up an unlikely friendship with his next-door neighbour Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, and her young son. Becoming emotionally involved with the family he takes it upon himself to do a driving job to help Irene’s crook of a husband who has become mixed up with a local mob. Suffice to say the heist does not go to plan and carnage ensues throughout the rest of the movie.
Gosling is superb as the driver. Although he has exploded onto cinema screens recently it’s rare to see him play a character with so much sinister stillness. His soft rom-com roles like The Notebook suddenly seem very far away. It’s an unforgettable performance – his character barely mumbles a few words throughout the 100 minutes of action yet controls the screen with his posture, eye contact and presence. But the flip is suddenly switched half way through the movie, when Gosling’s character unleashes an unexpected violent side. The violence is handled well – albeit a tad graphic at times – and is delivered with as much shock as his character’s punch.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn should be applauded for not only his clever casting but his overall direction. The romantic scenes (which unfortunately never quite get going), the punch-ups and race shots are all handled with the same composure and colour. The movie, at times, has a feeling of a rather glamourised version of Lock Stock – memorable and sure to be a classic.
The mob characters, played by Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, are both intimidating and frustrating to watch. It only takes a few minutes for you to be engrossed in Gosling’s story and in supporting him take down the baddies.
All in all Drive is a charismatic watch. Yes the violence scenes are a bit graphic (the lift scene is particularly hard to watch) and the switch in Gosling’s character from ‘composed to manic’ is quite tough to take at times. But Drive is a powerful journey and one that will be difficult to rival, for a while.