The Driver does his driving for money. He is known by no other name, and known by no other life. When we first meet him in the first couple minutes of the film, he is the wheelman for some kind of getaway car, who escapes from heavy police pursuit not only by using his cars speed and strength, but by coolly exploiting his knowledge of the street terrain and tricking his pursuers. In the daylight he lives an entirely different life, he is a stunt driver for action movies. The two jobs represent no problems for him he has one duty in life: He drives.
The Driver is played by Ryan Gosling, he lives in the traditional image of two iconic heroes of the 1960s: Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name character and Alain Delons role in "Le Samourai." He has no known family, no known history and seemingly few emotions. Whatever horrible thing happened to him before the movie lets us into his life drove any sign of a personality deep beneath the surface. He is an existential hero, with no origin he is defined entirely by his behavior.
Being an existential hero with no known backstory and no obvious personality would easily qualify The Driver to be the hero of a mindless action film, all with CGI and crashes and mayhem. "Drive" is more of an elegant exercise in style than a mindless action movie, and its emotions and concepts may be well hidden but they run deep to those who finds them. Sometimes a movie will make a greater impact on the viewer by not trying too hard. The mystery of the character The Driver is surrounded by a great gallery of supporting actors whose characters are clear about their hopes and fears, and all of whom have either reached an accommodation with the Driver, or have been unfortunate enough to encounter him in a bad mood. Here lies still another illustration of the old Hollywood noir movie ideal that a movies life is lived not through its hero, but within its shadows and background.
The Driver lives in a unnamed beach city that was filmed in Los Angeles. His neighbor is Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, an icon of vulnerability and innocence. Irene has a young son, Benecio, played by Kaden Leos, who manages to stir up the Driver's affection, although he is not the effusive type. The Driver and these three grow fairly close to one another, but in as soon as a week, Irenes husband, Standard, played by Oscar Isaac, is released from prison after several years. Against our expectations, Standard isn't openly jealous or hostile twords the new neighbor, but sizes him up which seems to show that he is jealous on the inside. Standard then sees a professional criminal and quickly pitches a $1 million heist idea. The heist that follows will provide the engine for the rest of the story, and as Irene and Benecio are quickly endangered by Standards actions, the Driver reveals deep feelings and loyalties indeed, and undergoes enormous risk for them at little necessary benefit to himself.
The film by the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn ("Bronson"), is based on a novel of the same name by James Sallis, enriches its story with characters who bring lifetimes onto the screen, which provides great contrast to the Driver, who brings as little as possible. Ron Perlman seems to be a big-time crime operator working out of a small front, a pizzeria in a strip mall. Albert Brooks, not the slightest bit comedic, plays a producer of the movies the Driver does stunt driving for and has a sideline in crime. These people are ruthless mobsters.
More benign plays Bryan Cranston, plays the person you imagine the Driver must have behind him, a genius at auto repairs, restoration and supercharging.
I earlier mentioned CGI. "Drive" has little of it. Most of the stunt driving looks real to me, within a lot of the cars weight and resistance making sense, rather than being impossible animated fantasies. The entire film, in fact, seems much more real than the usual action-crime-chase concoctions we've grown tired of. Drive is a movie with respect for writing, acting and craft. It has respect for veteran moviegoers. The key thing you want to feel, during a chase scene, is involvement in the purpose of the chase. You have to care. Too often we're simply witnessing technology but this movie does chase scenes right.
Drive was released to an average rating of 7 to 9 out of ten by critics and a 4/5 by average audience ratings. I personally feel that this movie is one of the few I would give a 9/10 if not a perfect 10/10, it is clear that a lot of time and care went into this movie and it shows even in the small details like the lack of CGI and creative fighting methods. The struggles of this movie seem very much real when you first watch it and as a result an amazing sense of immersion comes out of the experience. The soundtrack is very fitting for the release year of 2011 and as hard as I try I canít find any element of movie making where this movie falls short. I love this movie and so do many of the people who watch it, it is an experience I would highly recommend.