Behind this simple and generic title Drive, hides a visually appealing but rather slow crime thriller. Right away I have to tell you that there won’t be much action in this movie. This does not mean that Drive is a bad movie, on the contrary, it’s one of the better movies I’ve seen in the last few months. It just means that if you’re looking for fast-paced action, you should seek it elsewhere. If, however, you’re looking for an immersive story from the crime world, you’re in luck. We will be following an unemployed stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for various criminals.
It’s based on a novel of the same name written by James Sallis. Although the novel was published in 2005, the movie Drive feels like a love letter to all those seventies action thrillers featuring botched robberies and stuff like that. Perhaps The Driver from 1978 starring Steve McQueen is the best example. The director is Nicolas Winding Refn whom you might remember as the guy behind the Pusher trilogy and Bronson. So, the man knows his crime stuff. In this case, he decided to go in a neo-noir direction and it fucking paid off.
From the opening chase right down to the gloriously subdued finale some ninety minutes later, Drive is a movie that’s going to dazzle you. The stylish visuals and heart-pounding action sequences you wish made up the entire movie are there to divert focus from a very human story. A story of a man slowly sinking into an emotionless black hole without any way to save himself. So, you could even say that the movie Drive is actually a character study, showing us one man’s struggle for survival.
It is late at night and Driver just picked up two masked men. The three of them are driving to a secluded location where the masked robbers are about to rob somebody. After the deed was done, our hero expertly gets away from the crime scene, dumps the car, and blends in. Another job well done and another stack of bills successfully collected. However, it’s just a matter of time before things start to get tricky…
The basic structure of the story reminds me of Leon, Luc Besson’s nineties crime classic. In both of these movies, you have emotionally unavailable men bonding with their neighbors and getting into trouble. Ryan Gosling was excellent as our anti-hero but Albert Brooks stole the show here as Bernie Rose. That’s a man you don’t want to fuck with. Of course, the main element in Drive is the driving itself along with the car culture. Just a couple of years ago, we had the pleasure of watching Death Proof another movie about a stunt driver featuring awesome cars.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Hossein Amini, James Sallis
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Ron Perlman
Fun Facts: Hugh Jackman was originally set the star in this movie but ended up being replaced by Ryan Gosling.