Movie review – Smart crime thriller drives in top gear

2011-12-12 09:50

Film: Drive (Nu Metro)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Featuring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks and Oscar Isaac
Rating: 8/10

This stylish, slow burn crime thriller has a lot going for it. For a start, there’s Danish-born director Nicolas Winding Refn’s ability to make extreme violence look, well, poetic.

Then there’s Ryan Gosling, who continues to prove his versatility as an actor. If poetry were a bloke, Gosling would be it – in motion.

This is the fourth time Gosling has adorned our screens in 2011. First up was his performance in the Oscar-nominated dark romance Blue Valentine.

Then he starred in the true story of suspected wife killer David Marks in All Good Things.

And who could forget when he bared his cut torso and flawless charm in Crazy Stupid Love. Before the year’s out, we will see him again in The Ides of March, George Clooney’s new political thriller.

Identified just as Driver,

Gosling is a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway car driver.

In no nonsense terms, he explains to those who employ him that he gives them an extra five minutes during any job, no questions asked. The opening chase sequence is a cracker.

When not in the driver’s seat, Driver is a rather shy, socially inept young man.

He is taken in by a mechanic with big dreams, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), who is setting up to borrow money from a pair of gangsters to fund Driver on the racetrack.

The money-lending villains are played with understated malevolence and crazy psychopathology by Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, respectively, and both are a joy to watch.

Driver is largely oblivious to all this as he is falling in love with the woman next door, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son.

His neighbours soon become his touchstone to a normal life. Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is in prison so Driver begins doing odd jobs for her and the two develop a relationship just this side of physical.

When her husband gets out of jail, Driver agrees to help him shake off the last of the shackles of his criminal life.

That’s when the plot changes gear – from burgeoning love story to blood-splattered thriller.

Gosling turns in an explosive performance, capturing his character’s complexity. Like the scorpion that adorns Driver’s favourite jacket, he’s got a sting in his tail that drives this film to a shattering climax.

Drive is not traditional holiday fare, but it is a powerful piece of film making featuring two celebrated independent film stars – Gosling and Mulligan.

Both have an Oscar nomination under their belts and are always in the race for more.

» Follow me o Twitter @GayleMahala 

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