Review: Drive

They say it’s better to be late to the party than to never turn up at all – Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive came out in September to much acclaim. For whatever reason I missed the cinema release, so here I am reviewing the Blu-Ray/DVD. Is it really as good as everyone was saying? OH YES.

Drive tells the tale of Ryan Gosling’s Driver. Laconic, taciturn, call him what you want. He’s the Man With No Name transplanted to modern-day Los Angeles. He’s a stuntman by day, getaway driver at night. You have a job, he’ll give you five minutes. A second longer and he’s gone. Keep to the schedule and he’ll get you out. Guaranteed. Things get muddied when he falls for a married neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan). His efforts to protect her and her family from some hoods strips away at the thin veneer of respectability he’s built for himself and reveals a bubbling psyche of rage prone to bouts of ultra-violence.

With a pumping electro score and gleaming cityscapes, Drive couldn’t be more eighties if it tried. The opening getaway sequence glows with the neon lighting of LA as Gosling’s Driver races, hides, squeals, and reverses through the backstreets avoiding cop cars and hovering helicopters. It is cut to perfection and engages instantly. And Gosling keeps you hooked with a star-making turn. THAT scorpion jacket, the black leather driving gloves, constantly chewing on a toothpick. It shouldn’t work but it does. His awkward drawn out exchanges with Carey Mulligan are brilliant. In fact, the looks they share say more than words ever could, and in this day and age that is all too rare.

It’s not just Gosling where Refn lucks out on the casting. Mulligan oozes vulnerability as Irene. Bryan Cranston’s Shannon, a garage owner who’s had more than his fair share of bad luck, charms. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks menace convincingly as a pair of gangsters.

The story is resolutely B-movie – Getaway driver gets more than he bargains for when a heist goes wrong – but it’s Nicholas Winding Refn’s direction that lifts it out of the ordinary to something special. Best known for his Pusher trilogy and the all style, no substance, Bronson (though it gave Tom Hardy a massive career boost), Refn nails it with Drive. It is COOL. Ridiculously cool. Long crossfades linger on screen like ghosts. The use of slow-motion gives everything a dream-like quality, the stark and extreme violence shocking you back to reality.

Drive is one of those rare films that makes you excited about movies again. It reminds you that not everything needs to be CGI-filled popcorn fest, or a po-faced psycho drama. It thrills, it entertains, it stays with you long after the credits have rolled. Heck, I wanna stick it back in my Blu-Ray player and watch it all over again. This is one party I’m glad I arrived late to.

Drive is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD.

More Reviews:

Haywire

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Melancholia

Coriolanus

Troll Hunter

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Tron

The Girl With Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Hackers

WarGames

Super 8

The Parallax View

Cowboys And Aliens

Swamp Thing

X-Men First Class

The Human Centipede

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

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