Film Review: Drive (2011)


Genre: Crime, Drama

Director: Nicholas Winding Refn

Writers: Hossein Amini, James Sallis

Staring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks

Rating: ★★★★★

Ryan Gosling stars in this crime drama as a Driver, he has no name, no past, no other life. He drives as a stuntman, a wheelman for getaways and he drives to save his neighbours lives. We first see  Driver in LA being used as a wheelman for a getaway. He’s calm, composed and mysterious and in pursuit from the police he uses not only the sheer power, speed and his driving ability but the environment and intelligence to escape. During the day he works as a mechanic and a stuntman, he asks no questions, he just drives.

He is this traditional “hero” and this film fits the 1960’s trend and style, he is a complete mystery but all we can tell is that he’s damaged and whatever damaged him has had a lasting effect on his mental state. He has no family, no friends, no past not even a name making him defined purely by his behaviour and all he does is drive. He has few if any emotions, he doesn’t talk much but we become to be attached and sympathise for him and this is down to a truly amazing soundtrack and score editing.

The Driver befriends his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son Benecio (Kaden Leos) and within a week becomes very affectionate and close. He takes them home from the supermarket after their car breaks down, he then goes on to drive them around and take them places. This sets up a rather heart warming relationship between the three of them however Irene’s husband and Benecio’s dad called Standard (Oscar Isaac) is due out from prison in a week destroying the relationship. Standard at first is hostile with his new neighbour but then realises that he can use him to pay off his debt in a $1million heist on a local pawn brokers. However when things go wrong it puts his family in danger and being attached Driver decides to take it into his own hands to protect their lives. This fuels the rest of the film as Driver gets involved with ruthless big time mobsters Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks as he takes risks to show unbelievable loyalty and feelings for Irene.

As the plot progresses and the danger and conflict increases we see the damaged Driver show as he displays extreme violence. This however creates us to sympathise for him more rather than making him a villain, it also brings some great entertainment and some thrilling action.

The film is action packed but leaves room for a light hearted romance and a good storyline, for once I think a film has managed to balance this out correctly and effectively. Unlike most other crime-action dramas, Drive is a very realistic film, chases seem realistic and so do stunts. CGI is used as little as possible, Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn respecting the genre and craft of film making. The key element in this film is sound, Cliff Martinez should be very proud of what he’s achieved. Due to the lack of dialogue from the driver the soundtrack speaks for him, telling us everything about him including his feelings. Drive has been credited with many awards for it’s sound editing and well deserved too. This is definitely a film you don’t want to miss and you won’t be disappointed after watching.