I picked up the blu-ray of Drive over the weekend and thought it was an absolutely brilliant film. A simple premise; Ryan Gosling is a Hollywood stunt driver by day moonlighting as a getaway driver for hire at night, inevitably getting mixed up in the wrong job. It’s set in the present day, but from the moment the neon pink opening titles hit the screen there’s a heavy and unique 1980’s atmosphere in it’s soundtrack, clothing, lighting and locations (think art deco apartment blocks with indirect wall lighting). It gives it a subtle guilty pleasure feel, but not spoofing the 80’s like a grindhouse feature. It’s better described a “neo-noir art house feature”. It has a terrific supporting cast too; Carey Mulligan plays the female lead who steals the Driver’s heart and Albert Brooks plays a surprisingly menacing mob boss. Bryan Cranston, who’s wildly underrated, turns in a great performance too as Shannon.
Nicolas Winding Refn oozes every ounce of tension possible out of the screen time, such as the lingering on shots after the dialogue ends. The Driver is a man of few words, but when he does speak you know for a fact that he means every syllable. This film could have easily become the star-vehicle Drive Angry; going for the explosions and gore (not that there’s a lack of the latter however!) but the focus on characters and plot really pay off in a more satisfying way. Sure, there’s a place for the Saturday night features, but nothing can replace a genuinely engaging story with characters you care about.
Coupled with a horse-powered car chase (the roar of the Ford Mustang will give any car fan goose pimples) and great characters, I’d highly recommend a viewing. I’ve heard of some ludicrous lawsuits being filed against Drive’s producers from dissatisfied viewers expecting The Fast and Furious, but the movie scores a solid 4/5 with me. Then again, there’d be no harm in adding another car chase!