Get ready for the coolest movie of the year. Nicholas Winding Refn – who previously brought is the deceptively slow-paced Valhalla Rising and the out-there Bronson – delivers a real thrill ride of a movie with Drive (pardon the pun) but one that works on a quieter level than a lot of other similar films.
We’re officially out of the summer season and Drive is a great example of the grown-up type of cinema this type of year offers. Even if it often concentrates on the drama, it’s still at least part thriller, with plenty of car chasing (it ain’t called Drive for nothing) and shootouts. But there’s a depth to this film which sets it apart from many others of its type, a certain boldness which makes it stand out from the crowd.
Ryan Gosling (who seems to be in every other movie these days) plays a movie stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for any criminals who need his services. One day he starts to form a relationship with his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son, eventually deciding to help her husband (who has recently been released from prison) to pull of a job in order to pay debts he owes to a crime boss. Needless to say things don’t exactly go to plan and the Driver (as he’s simply credited) gets mixed up with the wrong people a lot more than he had intended to.
On the surface Drive may seem like your average crime movie and indeed it does contain a lot of the tropes of the genre (big bad mob boss, shootouts, car chases and lots of swearing and violence). But Refn – one of the more unique directors working today – has created a distinctive tale of crime, not least with the elegant, handsome look of the film off-setting the often horrendous and violent things that take place on-screen.
Speaking of which, if you are at all queasy or of a nervous disposition you might want to watch this one with caution. It’s hard these days to shock with violence – purely because there’s so much of it in movies and on TV that we’ve become somewhat desensitised – but there were at least five times (at least) throughout where my mouth dropped open in shock and awe of how violent it was. That may sound like a knock but it’s entirely the opposite. This is dealing with serious situations and if they involve violence then it should be showcased in all its brutal reality. Drive isn’t afraid to show what would really happen if, for instance, someone was shot in the head. Violence is not a nice thing so why should the film hide that fact?