Truth be told, I wasn’t really aware of Ryan Gosling before Drive, although I vaguely recalled him from Remember the Titans. Shame on me, as he delivers a convincing performance in Drive as a man of few words. Other cast members deliver good acting as well, notably Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks. This movie is not permeated with slick dialogue like Fast Five and it doesn’t have the cliché Michael Bay look, but instead stylistically resembles an early eighties film. All the better since it is exactly these elements that give Drive a unique feel.
The movie heavily relies on non-verbal behaviour: glances, smiles and awkward pauses. This builds excellent tension between the main characters. Rosling plays the nameless driver who seems somewhat of a lone ranger. His genuine care for a woman results in him getting caught up in a violent plot.
The cinematography is excellent and makes up for the film being a little bit slow in some spots. Although the music used is fitting, the soundtrack is very minimal and large portions of movie are without any music at all. This is quite effective and sets Drive apart from a pack of over-the-top action films that rely too heavily on constant pumping audio to move the audience along. Nevertheless, because the film is so silent, the moments where gunfire and other types of violence are used, are all the more shocking and gruesome.
The amount of violence in Drive is also my primary point of criticism. I don’t mind this when it is essential for advancing the plot, and some parts of Drive rely on it to bring forward the violent nature of the main character. However, I think there’s a bit too much visceral violence. Drive is often compared with Tarantino’s films. However, in his work violence is often so over the top that it becomes light-hearted and almost humorous besides also serving a plot wise purpose. In contrast Drive has a much darker tone than most of Tarantino’s work, making it even more essential to strike the right visual balance.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is an overall good movie with an interesting storyline and memorable characters. The style and overall atmosphere is reminiscent of movies like American History X, Pulp Fiction and No Country for Old Men. Even though it is too blunt to actually belong among those classics. Nevertheless, Drive is recommended if you liked those movies.