Drive - Blu-ray Review

'Drive is film-making maths but it is sexy maths, maths where the result is blazing car chases, a nameless hero, a smattering of neon-throwback and a dash of ultra-violence'

A film with the patient air of something that knows its got a good idea, Drive is Nicolas Winding Refn's uber-cool ode to the night, the eighties and the particular genre of Crime-Thriller that leaves your eyes, tongue and facial hair needing to be peeled from your television set. The self-confidence Refn's film exudes is typified in Hossein Amini's sparse script, which has long dialogue-less moments. Amini knows that a nameless man (Ryan Gosling), driving a fast car, with sunglasses on, at night, just doesn't need any words.

The detachment that Amini and Refn's film creates is one of artistic self-confidence but it is never a confidence that comes across as cold, arch or arrogant. Drive has a crafting to it that is calculated, but never in a way that fails to push all of your buttons. It's film-making maths but it is sexy maths, maths where the result is blazing car chases, a nameless hero, a smattering of neon-throwback and a dash of ultra-violence.

The 18-rated violence is probably the film's greatest risk. Refn has described showing violence in any other way as 'cheating', an argument which is easy to buy. Still, the scenes of overt blood splatter risk distancing the audience. Everything else sucks you in. The violence threatens to turn you away. That though, surely, is part of Refn's point. The sexed-up world of The Driver is seductive but the director is keen to remind you that he is a criminal in a dangerous world. Sure, Gosling is smart and alluring but he also stamps on someone until their face collapses. It is all part and parcel of the world he lives in and, ultimately, it's a successful risk on the director's part.

Perhaps the risk that doesn't come off is the marginalisation of the support in a pretty perfect one-hundred minute runtime. Carey Mulligan survives but the relationship with Shannon (Bryan Cranston) is very sketchily handled and Nino (Ron Perlman) and Blanche (Christina Hendricks) form plot components, not characters. The excuse is perhaps that that's the point; this is, after all, a film knowledgeable and accepting of its similarly thinly characterised forebears. This reasoning is more difficult to buy than that behind the shows of violence but, in the trade off for an acceptable runtime and consummately judged pacing, it's possible to look past both this and Drive's other minor suspect moments.

Refn said during the press tour for Drive that he was a fetish film-maker, something which he described as meaning that he makes films he himself wants to see. If more film-makers followed that rule we might be looking at a whole load more great films. A brave and involving thriller, laudable both for its nods to tradition and the risks it takes to breakaway from what went before.

Look further...

Drive swept the board at this year's LION Awards over at The LAMB, taking Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. You can find more from the awards here.


  1. I really like that you acknowledge the flaws of the film but still give it a 5 star rating. Often perfection isn't necessarily perfect (if that makes any sense).

    1. I know exactly what you mean - when you're on a five-star rating (or even four) it's unlikely that a five-star film will be flawless. There's a difference between a film being, on balance, worthy of the top mark and a film that has no errors in it whatsoever. The latter, in fact, is close to impossible, not that I give out that many five-stars any way!