Drive review

Based on the novel by James Sallis and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive is about a Los Angeles wheelman for hire, stunt driving for movie productions by day and steering getaway vehicles for armed heists by night.

When I first heard about Drive, I thought it would be a film adaption based on the popular video game Driver made by Reflections. The settings are very similar. You are a handy wheelman and can outrun the police after several bank jobs.

Ryan Gosling plays an unnamed Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as an ultra-efficient, no-questions-asked getaway driver, overseen in both cases by his friend and mentor Shannon (played by Breaking Bad’s star Bryan Cranston).

Though he normally keeps himself to himself, the driver’s solitary existence is ruffled when he forms an attachment with his beautiful neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son (Kaden Leos) after they move into his building.

When Irene’s ex-convict husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison, the driver agrees to help him with the debt he owes a local gangster by agreeing to drive during a heist. However, when the heist goes wrong, the driver finds his life threatened by gang boss Nino (Ron Perlman) and crooked businessman Bernie (Albert Brooks), both of whom have history with Shannon.

Even with minimal dialogue and almost no facial expression except the occasional smile, Gosling delivers a super cool performance. It helps that his white satin, gold scorpion-emblazoned jacket he wears throughout the film made him look cool and hip.

There’s also strong support from Isaac, Perlman (who gets the best lines) and Cranston, not forgetting the eye-catching turn from Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks as gangster’s moll Blanche.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s impeccably stylish direction in Drive won him the Best Director in this year’s Cannes Film Festival. With long, fluid takes accompanied by a great soundtrack and some impressive production design work. Refn’s also directs some exciting action sequences, including that thrilling car chase, as well as heart-pounding scenes punctuated by explosions of strong violence.

I was highly impressed by Drive. The story and characters made it fascinating to watch and I was quite captivated by the action thanks to a strong script and a great lead performance from Ryan Gosling. Well recommended for quite possibly the coolest film this year.

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