From the very onset of the film, “Drive” takes a tenacious grip on its audience and doesn’t let go until after its over. Ryan Gosling stars as a professional stunt driver on movie sets by day and moonlights as a getaway driver by night. When he’s double crossed in a botched heist to help a troubled family, he’s forced to break his own rules to protect them and himself. This leads to a violent and riveting thrill ride that is complete with phenomenal car chases.
Adapted from the sporadic and unchronological neo-noire novel by James Sallis, Hossein Amini does exceptional work with the screenplay. He takes certain events from the novel, puts them in a structured order, and includes his own contributions to the story. In this way, the screenplay strays from the novel, which leaves room for diversity for those who have read it, with enough similarity that does not disappoint.
The film has a slow, powerful pace that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Cliff Martinez composes a gloomy score that gives the film a sense of foreboding. Electronic and pop music conflict with the gloomy score, which helps in propelling narrative momentum and creating a cerebral, yet hip, and exciting blend that works. The film is dark, but allows for comedic relief and blithe moments.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn shows his true skill as a filmmaker with this well crafted film. Everything works together to make “Drive” Refn’s finest film, and it certainly cements the fact that Refn is a director to watch. His 2008 film, “Bronson,” was hailed “A Clockwork Orange” for the 21st century – then that can allow the comparison that “Drive is Taxi Driver” for the 21st century.
It certainly goes without saying that the members of the all star cast give stellar performances that further ensure that the film is a masterpiece, a near perfect film. Carey Mulligan plays Gosling’s love interest with Bryan Cranston — who provides most of the comedic relief — playing Shannon, Gosling’s boss and good friend.
Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman also co-star as the extremely dangerous mobster bad guys. Ryan Gosling never fails to impress, especially here with a different role for him that certainly reveals a new depth that renders him a more than capable actor for any role.
“Drive” has to be one of the more substantial films released this year so far, or even in the last several years. It has a hint of ‘80s sentiment with its pink neon credits and music that is only part of what gives the film art house flair. It doesn’t have constant “action movie” violence that would be expected from the plot, but when there is violence – it’s done in a way that is very graphic. Oddly enough the dyslexic and color blind Refn, manages to make “Drive,” as well as his other films, into masterfully constructed films with such detail to color and lighting that would make Stanley Kubrick proud.