Nicolas Winding Refn (2011)

Last Featured: June 3, 2015

Image Credits: FilmDistrict

Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan star in this fast-paced thriller. Gosling is a stunt driver by day, and a getaway driver by night. When he falls for his neighbor, he begins taking greater risks than he ever has before.

These days, action movies are defined by explosions, attractive yet one-dimensional women, and cartoonish villains. However, as proven by Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterful Drive, an action movie does not have to be loud and bombastic to be effective; they can have a truly artistic quality and still be thrilling.

Ryan Gosling stars as the nameless Driver, a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. After becoming acquainted with a new neighbor and her young son, he agrees to help her recently paroled husband pay off a mob debt by robbing a pawn shop. When the robbery goes south, the Driver has to protect his neighbor and himself by taking matters into his own hands.

The riveting plot of Drive is bolstered by its strong actors. Gosling’s performance emanates power and confidence, and his brooding, detached demeanor suits the character well. The first sequence of the film—when the Driver and two burglars evade the cops on a chase through Los Angeles—introduces the character perfectly, and makes it impossible to not root for him. Albert Brooks’s portrayal of Bernie Rose, a movie producer-turned-mobster, is also a highlight. Brooks imbues the character with both wit and malice, creating nuance in a character that might be cliché in a different story. 

Combined with assured direction from Refn—who won Best Director at Cannes for his efforts—and a moody soundtrack by Cliff Martinez, Drive is a modern marvel.