If you would have said to me 3 years ago, or even 2 years ago that Nicolas Winding Refn would be making Hollywood studio films, I would have laughed and walked away. Thankfully no-one said that or else I would now be biting my tongue. The Danish Maverick filmmaker, with such acclaimed titles such as the ‘Pusher Trilogy’, Tom Hardy’s International break-out role ‘Bronson’ and the Viking science fiction film ‘Valhalla Rising’ has set foot in the American Film industry. And oh has he stepped so firmly and stylishly.

Drive is modern day fairy tale, set at the heart of Los Angeles, it’s a story about a Hollywood stunt driver (Gosling) who moonlights as a wheelman, and he discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong. Now from that synopsis it may sound like a straight to DVD flick, but I assure you it is not. I’m going to go as far as saying that ‘Drive’ is the ‘Taxi Driver’ for the 21st century, and believe me the comparison has less to do with the driving aspect of both films. I’m going to be honest, I’ve never seen a movie with the incentive of it being a ‘Ryan Gosling Film’ and seeing it solely to watch the Gosling Performance, like one would with many other actors. But I assure you from now on, I will definitely watch a film with Ryan Gosling, simply because Ryan Gosling is starring in it. Gosling is incredible in ‘Drive’. While watching his character, it’s impossible not to be reminiscent of Alain Delon’s character ‘Jef Costello’ in Jean Pierre Melville’s ‘Le Samourai’. A silent methodical professional.  The key word, Professional. Almost like Leon in ‘Leon: The Professional’, Gosling is the most professional, strictly business character in this movie. Also another comparison with ‘Leon: The Proffessional’ would be Director Nicolas Winding Refn exploring the simple cliché storyline, but attacking it with that Euro-chic that Luc Besson attacked us with 17 years ago now. I’m not going to go much into the scenes or the story as I want this to be completely spoiler-free so one can watch the movie with only my references to other movies in mind.

From the opening titles with the Pink 80’s typefont, one is instantly transported to the titles of GrandDrive Theft Auto –  Vice City, or if you take another step back in time to the opening title’s of William Friedkin’s ‘To Live and Die in LA’ or furthermore another step back in time to  Michael Mann’s ‘Thief’. Obviously Refn is an 80’s kid at heart and ‘Drive’ plays as a pastiche to the genre films of his youth, but even though I say this, ‘Drive’ is a completely different movie, and now possibly in a genre of it’s own.

A couple of extra facts I wanted to mention are;

  1. Nicolas Winding Refn suffers from Dyslexia and didn’t learn how to read until he was 13 years old, this is important, so while watching this film, pay attention how he tells the story visually.
  2. When Valhalla Rising came out I was blown away with it so I purchased it on Blu-ray, on the Blu-ray release there was a Director’s Commentary, and being who I am (Someone who watches films over and over again, with and without Director’s Commentary) I jumped on it and during the commentary he said that Mads Mikkelsen’s protagonist: ‘One-Eye’ a mute superior warrior that may or may not be an Alien, will appear in his next film. His next film being a Drive, the resemblance is uncanny to Gosling’s character.
  3. With Nicolas and Ryan a great friendship while making this film, they have both ventured on a ‘Scorsese – DeNiro’ partnership with the film ‘Only God Forgives’ and the much anticipated ‘Logan’s Run’ remake.
  4. Not only Ryan Gosling formed a friendship with Refn, but also co-star Carey Mulligan is set to play in Refn’s ‘sex’ film ‘I Walk With The Dead’

Refn made Bronson for 1 million dollars, he made Drive for 10 million.

I can’t wait to see what he manages to make with 100 million.

Definitely watch Drive, an amazing art-house film posing as a Wide-Release mainstream film.

4.5/5 stars.

By Mert Berdilek

Australia’s Student Newspaper, trying to Improve Student Life. We publish articles written by students from across Australia and the world!

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