Basing expectations solely off the film’s title and plot, audiences may walk out of “Drive” slightly shaken—like a student expecting an Early Childhood Education course while taking Psychology of Violence and Aggression. It is not fast-paced. It is not filled with CGI-animated car chases and a charismatic hero who gets the girl. It does not star Jason Statham.
Instead, it creeps along slowly and casually until erupting into disturbing bursts of graphic violence and then returning to its normal pace, leaving the viewer on edge and distressed. And despite this, it is rewarding in its own bizarre way.
Following a nameless Hollywood stuntman (Ryan Gosling) who moonlights as a getaway driver, “Drive” manages to take a run-of-the-mill action flick plot and turn it into a psychological drama with a buzz. Gosling helps a great deal with this, playing the Driver with little expression, deliberately leaving the audience to fill in the blanks of his character. Somehow, with a blank expression and an average of about four words per scene, Gosling manages to convey blind fury, deep compassion and everything in between.
Over the plot’s course, he develops an affection for his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) until her husband (Oscar Isaac) is released from jail. Then this turns into sympathy for the couple and their boy (Kaden Leos), and when called upon, he accepts the job as a getaway driver for the husband’s “last job.” Thus begins his descent into a violent section of Los Angeles’s criminal world.
By the end of the film, we learn nothing about his past and are still unable to predict his future.
The only thing we are left with is a stronger sense of his nature, and even that sense is frail and full of uncertainty.
Evoking Michael Mann, David Lynch, and to some extent Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, director Nicolas Winding Refn has delivered quite a dichotomous film. It is an award winner with car chases. It has character development and skull crushing. Also, it has comedian Albert Brooks playing the most threatening gangster this side of Scarface.