Every once in a while, a film comes along that cannot be compared to anything else you have ever seen before. This is one of those films. Drive is truly one of a kind. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) uses his talents and unique vision to tell a story with style and substance. He has made an artsy action film that lets music tell part of its story while always being visually exciting.
Ryan Gosling plays a guy who only goes by Driver. He is quiet and keeps to himself. By day, he works in a garage for Shannon (Bryan Cranston) and works part-time as a Hollywood stuntman. At night, he is a getaway driver and uses his special skills behind the wheel to get the bad guys to safety. He is a loner by nature and has his own way of doing things. He has specific rules that people must follow before he takes a job and lends his services. And there is no mistaking on what he expects from them or himself, and he makes sure you definitely understand what he is telling you.
But even for a guy like Driver, he cannot help but fall in love with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother whose husband (Oscar Issac) gets out of prison and drags all of them in to a very messy situation. Due to how he feels about Irene and her son, Driver helps her husband with a heist that is to clear his debt once and for all. But it goes horribly wrong and he soon finds out there are more than a few people involved who want the bag of cash, including a gangster (Albert Brooks) who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. This leaves Driver, a man who has only had to worry about himself, shifts it in to gear to clean the streets up and protect Irene and her son, the two people he has ever cared for.
There is not one ounce of bad acting in this film. All of the performances are amazing, but Gosling, Mulligan, and Brooks bring something to the table that no one else can. Mulligan has shown how good she can be in every single film she is in. If you need proof then watch An Education and Never Let Me Go. As Irene, she is a sincere, compassionate woman and mother who gets put in a tough spot due to her husband’s past. And she is the only one who is able to breakthrough and actually gets to see who Driver really is as a person and a man. And who would have known that an actor/comedian could be one of the most violent gangsters to ever grace the screen. This is a complete leap for Brooks and it pays off extremely well. He plainly admits that he has had to do some stuff that he may not be proud of, but that would do it all over again if it was necessary. And we finally get to see for ourselves what he is capable of doing and it isn’t pretty.
What a year Gosling has had and it’s not over yet. He still has one more film to come out this year (Ides of March which is directed by George Clooney), but with Blue Valentine, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and now Drive, he is a limitless actor that can do it all. His character loves to drive. That is what he lives for. That is who he is. But his world becomes a little bigger once he meets Irene. He begins to open up and show a side that maybe he has never shown anyone before. We do not know anything about his past, but we soon realize violence may play a part in it.
Driver seems to never lose his cool behind the wheel, but something snaps inside of him that turns him in to a very dangerous man. It is scary and thrilling to watch Gosling go from one level to another and there are definitely some tense scenes in the film that show this. After seeing his gripping performance in this, Gosling is confident in what he can do and I only look forward to what he does next.
Drive is intelligent, riveting, and simply cool as hell. Refn gives the film a retro look and feel to it that makes it slick and that much more appealing. And while the film has a slow, patient pace, once the violence begins, there is no turning back. It gets brutal and bloody in a hurry and it’s exhilarating to see it break loose on-screen. Drive has compelling, powerful performances and is an adrenaline-rush thrill ride from beginning to end. There is nothing else like it out there and is certainly one of the best films of the year. You understand?