Based on James Sallis‘ 2005 novel, adapted for the screen by Hossein Amini, Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a getaway driver with no name who finds himself in a sticky situation when he breaks his own rules. If this sounds a little like The Transporter franchise, well it is, but director Nicolas Winding Refn decides to treat a rather ordinary action tale as an art house film drawing comparisons to dramatic action films of the late 60’s and 70’s like Steve McQueen‘s Bullit.
The Driver has everything he needs. His evident skill gets him consistant stunt car work and the far more lucrative (though far less legal) jobs no one else can do. His business partner (Bryan Cranston) has just closed a deal with a mobster (Albert Brooks) to buy a stock car which will allow the Driver to finally hit the big time. But when the Driver allows himself to be sucked into the troubles of an attractive neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son (Kaden Leos) by agreeing to help her husband (Oscar Isaac) pull off a big score things go horribly wrong.
The film is filled with good performances led by Gosling, Mulligan and Brooks. Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman both show up in small, but memorable, roles as well. It’s Gosling who, in true action hero style, stays stoically calm as the film takes a dark turn when events start to spiral out of control by never revealing any indication that he’s in over his head.
Aside from a rather standard plot, the film isn’t without its problems including a far too obvious nod to “The Scorpion and the Frog “(which is even directly referenced at one point) and an odd sequence involving the Driver stalking his prey in a mask (but still wearing his trademark blood spattered scorpion jacket) that may look great on camera but doesn’t make a lick of sense.
Personally, I also had a little trouble with the film’s final shot which feels far too hopeful for the kind of film Drive strives to be over the course of its 100-minute running time. It was not surprised to find the author is working on a second book centered around this character, and given the film’s critical acclaim we may see the Driver again on-screen before too long.
Out today on DVD and Blu-ray the extras include short featurettes on the film’s main character, the stunts, and the film’s love story. There are also slightly longer interviews with the film’s director concerning the making of the film, and with Amini in which he discusses the story and adapting it from the original novel. The Blu-ray also comes with Sony’s UltraViolet cloud platform allowing viewers to watch and download a copy of the movie to separate devices.
[Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Blu-ray $30.99 / $26.99]