Drive, directed by Nicholas Refn, is a slick, minimalist action thriller. The film stars Ryan Gosling as a nameless getaway driver-for-hire with almost no personality other than anger-management issues and a soft spot for children. In the first half of the movie, he becomes involved in the lives of his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio. When Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is released from prison with unpaid debts for protection while inside, the driver offers to help Standard rob a pawn shop. The job goes terribly wrong, and soon, the driver is left with a million dollars that aren’t his, a lot of gangsters looking to get it back, and the realization he was set up. Cue merciless rage of the main character. Many dead bodies follow suit.
Drive is a good movie, no question. What Refn does well in Drive is dote on the intimacy of passing moments, be they incredibly violent or incredibly tender. There are many short scenes with no dialogue, where characters simply look at each other, like when Benicio and the driver have staring contests in the elevator. Even the murder scenes—which are staggeringly violent, by the way—are given a breath of intimacy that you won’t find in a bloodthirsty slasher film like Saw. While I’m left thinking Gosling’s character is essentially a schizophrenic homicidal maniac—someone who can go from kissing a woman to crushing a man’s skull in two seconds flat—the film is a must-see for any fan of the gangster drama, providing a solid story with enough style to shake up the genre.