Drive (2011)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac

Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

Ryan Gosling in Drive

So hot on the heels of the awesome Bronson, I rush to see the latest film from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (hey, when you find a new director you like, you can't let the grass grow under your feet).

With A list stars and an LA setting, Drive is altogether more of a Hollywood affair than the very British Bronson. But this moving, meditative thriller is far from your usual Tinsel Town fodder. Sure, it may feature high octane car chases, brutal violence and explosive shoot outs, but The Fast and the Furious it ain't.

Carey Mulligan as Irene in Drive

Our hero, played by Ryan Gosling and referred to only as the Kid, is a stunt driver, garage mechanic, putative stock car racer and part-time get-away expert. Sounds exciting, but we quickly realise that his life is simple, narrow and lonely - until he feels drawn to complicate it by getting involved with his sweet, soft-spoken neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan).

A man of few words, and those forced out through teeth clenched firmly round a drape-style toothpick, his baby face and diffident manner belie nerves of steel. He is the best at what he does not just because he knows when to floor it like an F1 pro, but also because he knows when to wait, to take things slowly, to apply the brakes. When the going gets tough, he gets tougher, cool as ice in the face of pressure.

Ron Perlman as Nino in Drive

Like its hero, the film knows when to roar into action and when to hold the screeching tyres and vengeful violence at bay: some of the most nail-biting, gripping scenes involve the Kid sitting patiently in his car, watching the clock, waiting, as all hell prepares to break loose.

From the Cocktail style titles to the assured John Woo-esque use of slow-mo and fierce electro soundtrack (which again, as in Bronson, provides a poignant commentary on the action) Drive is like the greatest '80s movie never made. With fantastic performances all round (the ever-reliable Ron Perlman is particularly convincing as local racketeer Nino), this is a seriously stylish, classy thriller. Race to the cinema to see it. Seriously, on you go...

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