Drive (2011) is a crime drama film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, and Albert Brooks. The film is set in modern day Los Angeles.
Drive begins introducing “The Driver” (Ryan Gosling), mechanic and hollywood stunt driver by day, criminal getaway driver by night. The Driver helps his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio when their car breaks down at the grocery store. He spends more time with the two of them, and develops an awkward romance with Irene, whose husband is in jail. Shannon (Bryan Cranston), the Driver’s boss (in both his day job and secret night job), peruades mobster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) to invest in a stock car after seeing the Driver’s driving skills. As the Driver and Irene become closer, her husband Standard gets out of jail, and is beat up by some thugs he owes money to. The Driver sees the act, and agrees to help him do a job for the thugs for Irene and Benicio’s sake. Their job is to rob a pawn shop with the help of Blanche(a double crosser working for the thugs), and the Driver is their getaway man. Things go badly when Standard is killed in the robbery. The action picks up from there until the end of the movie.
The acting in Drive is superb. When you think of a movie called Drive and see the poster, you assume it would be something akin to The Fast and the Furious, but Drive is less action and more character. Gosling is a man of few words, and the dialogue involving The Driver is short and quiet. Most of the romantic tension in the movie is inferred from the facial expressions between Gosling and Mulligan, not from anything their characters say or do. Brooks is amazing as the mob boss Bernie Rose, and is a believable criminal and antagonist.
Drive‘s soundtrack also helped set the tone of the movie. The synth heavy, new wave sounding music evoked the feel of an eighties movie. The beginning of the movie in particular does an excellent job at this. As the Driver waits in the car for his clients to rob a store, you can hear repeated deep synth sounds that sound like a heartbeat as the tension builds.
I would recommend Drive to anyone who loves crime movies, or enjoys subtle character development. The direction, the acting, and the cinematography was all fresh compared to the “by the numbers” action movies that plague modern cinema. I was pleasantly surprised by the film when I watched it, as I was expecting a completely different movie after reading the summary and seeing the poster.