Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (the other movie of his that I have seen is Valhalla), brings us Drive starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Albert Brooks. Those of us (me included) who didn’t know anything about the plot before watching the film, and are expecting a high intensity, car chasing or even a race movie, will find themselves thoroughly disappointed if that’s the only thing that they wanted to see. I did expect the same and was a bit disappointed at the slow pace but still enjoyed the movie.
The unnamed Driver (Gosling) lives in a low-rent apartment building and works as a mechanic, stuntman but his real talents are his driving skills for which people seek him out as a getaway driver. He is known as one of the best drivers for this and works anonymously and never works for the same people twice. We see him waiting for a job to be finished and driving away to safety once the thieves are in the car. His other rule is that he will only wait 5 minutes before he drives off from a job. Shannon (Bryan Cranston) owns the garage the Driver works at and arranges his other jobs. Shannon gets mobster Bernie Rose to invest in a stock car for Driver to race, which he does once he sees the Driver’s skills.
Nino (Ron Perlman) is Bernie’s business partner and had once broken Shannon’s pelvis for failing to pay off a debt, leaving him with a permanent limp. The Driver meanwhile meets & befriends his neighbour Irene and her young son Benicio and helps her out. He becomes close with he both of them. However when Irene’s husband Standard is released from jail, the budding relationship is halted. Standard is beaten by a gangster, Cook, for money that he owns and seeks the Driver’s help to rob a pawn shop and pay off his debt. The Driver agrees to take Standard and Blanche, Coo’s moll, to the pawn shop as their getaway driver. The job goes wrong and Standard is killed while the Driver escapes to a motel with Blanche, with the killers in a car chasing them, where he threatens her to spill out the truth. She admits him that the chasing car belongs to Cook and that she and Cook planned to double-cross the Driver and Standard, taking the money for themselves. Two of Cook’s men attack them in the motel room, killing Blanche and injuring the Driver before he kills them both.
The Driver confronts Cook at a strip club and finds out that Nino is behind the pawn shop heist. He returns back to his apartment building, meets Irene and they go up in the elevator. A hitman sent by Nino rides along with them and is instead brutally killed by the Driver who repeatedly stomps & breaks the hitman’s head. Nino meets with Bernie and tells him what happened, upon which the latter goes to Shannon’s garage and kills him as a warning to the Driver. The Driver chases and kills Nino by drowning him in the ocean and then arranges to meet Bernie at a Chinese restaurant. The Driver says his goodbyes to Irene and meets up with Bernie, who agrees not to kill Irene & her son in exchange for money. n the parking lot, Bernie stabs the Driver in the abdomen as he pulls the money from the trunk of his car. The Driver fatally stabs Bernie, leaving his corpse and the satchel of money behind. That evening, Irene knocks on the Driver’s apartment door, with no response. The film ends with Driver driving into the night.
Storywise it might not be a plot stirrer but the movie works in a weird way. Even the tacky 80s style synthesizer music seems oddly in place with the movie. It’s not a movie I’d watch over & over again but it’s definitely worth getting just for the difference from other movies of our times. 8 out of 10!