Oozing attitude and dripping with charisma, Ryan Gosling proved himself a worthy heir to Steve McQueen as the nameless hero at the wheel of this terrific, precision-tooled thriller – my top film of 2011.
A laconic tough guy who is calm on the surface, tightly coiled beneath, he works by day as a Hollywood stunt driver and mechanic, and as a getaway driver by night. He’s very much a lone wolf until he befriends his pretty, vulnerable neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother whose husband is in prison. But his efforts to help out the family lead him into taking part in a blood-soaked heist with very fateful consequences.
With Drive, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has pulled off a stylish reworking of the hard-boiled American crime genre, a movie that is as cool and controlled as its protagonist. It’s also intensely gripping and, in places, intensely violent. Gosling pulls off the cool and the violence with panache and the supporting cast is also superb, with particularly striking performances from Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks’ as a hard-bitten gang moll and from Albert Brooks as an affable but menacing mobster. Yet take away the guns and Gosling’s hero could be a knight of old striving to rescue Mulligan’s damsel in distress.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 30th January by Icon Home Entertainment.
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