Ryan Gosling is back as the un-named “Driver” in the aptly titled Drive. From the outset we are thrust into this films world. The bleached out shots of downtown Los Angeles, the fuchsia titles and the snarl of a muscle car as it streams through the night. This is Michael Mann territory, it’s reminiscent of Miami Vice. Drive wears its 1980’s influences firmly on its sleeve and isn’t afraid to flaunt them.
Step forward our protagonist. Detached, methodical, quiet. He goes about his job with maximum care. Mechanic by day, getaway driver by night. The opening set piece is an exercise in how to create tension. The throbbing music, the long protracted silences and ultimately, the chase.
From here on out Drive takes it down a gear or two and focuses on a blossoming relationship between Driver and his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan.) They don’t talk much but you care for them and his affection for her is obvious. So when Irene’s estranged husband shows up and gets himself in a spot of bother, Driver is forced to act on emotion.
The script is pretty stripped down and bare. A basic plot where a man takes a job in order to protect a woman, when that job goes south, everything starts to unravel. It’s the films style that is the standout here. This could of been an average movie but for the way it has been shot and edited. Glorious visuals, a fantastic soundtrack and a slow burn pace are the keys to Drive’s success. It doesn’t hurt that the cast are outstanding as-well. I’ve probably run out of superlatives for the ever impressive Gosling, Mulligan is wonderful as a down-trodden soul that you just can’t help but feel for. Credit also has to go to the inspired casting of both Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks. Cranston is compelling as the Driver’s boss with ties to the criminal underworld and Albert Brooks is puts up a controlled performance as the antagonist, always simmering with menace.
A simple film given a unique style. The throbbing tones that open the film set its pace. Drive’s pulse beats throughout its run-time, leading you on a journey through Driver’s world. Style over substance? Perhaps but Drive is far too cool for you to care.