Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman
Synopsis: The Driver (Gosling) is a mysterious character whom is a stunt car driver for the movies and a mechanic during the day, and a getaway driver for hire in the evening. The film follows his relationship with neighbour Irene (Mulligan) and his attempts to keep her and her family safe from a mafia type crime syndicate.
Every now and again, a film comes along that is both full of explosive action sequences, yet still manages to get all the other elements right as well, including story, character development, and deep emotional drama. Drive is one of these films, and features an electric lead performance from Ryan Gosling, whose talent is finally being recognised with some fantastic roles for him to sink his teeth into.
The Driver fits that classic persona of the Man with No Name coming into town and taking action against a perceived injustice. Like Mifune and Eastwood before him, Gosling embodies a cool calm in the vast majority of intense situations, but can break out like a caged animal when absolutely necessary. These two personas are far from being at war, as there is a level of turmoil under the surface quite evident throughout this performance, and when unleashed the audience can both acknowledge the brutality while also appreciating the motives for these actions. In the closing act of the film there is some really intense violence, enough to turn off those weak of stomach, however never once can The Driver be accused of acting in excess to the wrong he is responding to.
He is surrounded by a number of low-life characters, the one person not of this mould being Mulligan’s Irene. She is also fantastic, and it certainly was clear that an actress of her talent was required in her more secondary role such that her performance was not completely overwhelmed by Gosling’s. It is the actions of her husband (Isaac), whom begins the film still in prison, that begin the downward spiral of events that lead to the closing moments of brutality. Brooks and Perlman play partners in a crime syndicate, and are perhaps more stereotypical in their mafiosi type roles. Though they are significant characters, they certainly do play second fiddle in this film. It doesn’t help for me that every time I see Perlman now, my imagination inserts two sawn off horns and a giant stone hand.
The story itself is tight and intense. Many films are guilty of filler moments that, especially when watched on Bluray in one’s home theatre, every now and again have me looking at my watch, or thinking about brewing that next cup of coffee. Drive was a film in which even the most minor of distractions was an irritant. I was glued from the first getaway action sequence through to the closing credits.
This is not necessarily always an easy film to watch, but it entertains at almost every level, if you can handle it!
5 stars out of 5