A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
“Driver” (the character name given to Ryan Gosling) loves to Drive. He works on cars during the day, races cars for money and even takes the occasional heist operation on for extra cash. He feels at home behind the wheel, which is evident in his natural relaxed state and savvy knack for reading police scanners. He also happens to be one bad ass stunt driver who is called on to the occasional movie gig. If you haven’t gotten the message “the driver” exists for his time behind the wheel.
Reserved, but confident he realizes his strengths and has even set himself up with a 5 minute rule. He’ll take on the crime job with out weapon as a driver if the buyer agrees to his simple terms. 5 Minutes I’m yours, outside of that your on your own.
As he goes about his daily routine, he encounters a beautiful next door neighbor by the name of Irene (Carey Mulligan). You can sense the instant attraction but his intention at least at first seems to be lending a helping hand and giving her and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos) some needed company. It’s not too long after that Irene’s convict husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), returns from a prison stint to look after his family. After making acquaintance, it’s apparent that Standard, is still head deep into a mess of urban crime due to a past debt. Gosling finds Standard beaten by some local thugs and agrees to help him out of a mess. The concern lying more on the safety of Irene and her son.
A botched heist only gets things more messier as the action of the film starts to take a turn into Scar Face arena. That’s to say that “the driver” seems to be able to hold his own with a knack for inflicting violence when necessary. This kind of play reminds of the film “True Romance” which also had “that vibe” to it. Gosling plays his part with a confidence that is often enhanced by this certain style of long pauses and silent demeanor. I wasn’t sure sometimes if the character was intended that way or if that’s just Gosling’s persona. Either or, its quirkiness adds a subtleness to the film that works.
“Drive” also incorporates the talents of Albert Brooks, a local crime boss name Bernie Rose and Ron Perlman aka Nino who plays his street thug partner. They all play a part in the seediness of games played with high stakes and protecting ones turf.
Though out the film, there is always this sense of calm that comes with the chaos. Refn, showcases this calming in the expression and subdued aggression that Gosling exudes. Then without warning, a shock moment breaks thru this calming like glass. “Drive” holds a special place within its confines. It creates its own direction and defies its odds.
Director Nicholas Winding Refn keeps the action moving pretty steadily thorough out. We sense that things will only get worse, but its fun ride getting there. The driving scenes are impressive and the movie itself takes on a tone of past directorial masterpieces. “Drive” is a bad ass film that brings a refreshing quality to the table that we tired of from films like “Fast and Furious”. Instead, the film centers around “the driver”, his small circle of existence and his obvious talents.
How does “Drive:” fit within our genre. I think on the surface is an all out action film. Though it’s quickly apparent that “Drive” sings a certain cult vibe much in the feeling you might get from watching “”Taxi Driver“. That calming grind into darker territories is a perfect addition to the thriller sector. The violence in “Drive” isn’t forgiving either which can get pretty nasty in the blood and gore category. Though its those orchestral moments when time seems to stop that adds beauty to the screen.
In closing, “Drive” may easily rank among one of the best films within 2011. In the wash of super hero films and less than engaging horror releases, “Drive” is honed to a perfect surprise addition into the film making ranks.
Drive is now available on Bluray per Sony Entertainment