Drive has to be one of my all time favourite movies. It is, in my opinion, almost perfect.
The elements of the story are all carried along in a near perfect arc, and it is a world that I feel fully immersed in. I identify with and love the main character in it – the classic, silent, tough-guy hero. He has some terrible violent past that is brought to the fore as events around him unfold, but we immediately like him because he is cool, independent, intelligent, extremely skillful, and a real hero.
At the start of the movie we think it will be all about driving, with a beautifully shot and paced driving sequence in which our hero drives some criminals around LA in an effort to outrun the police.
Next we are introduced to his apartment, job, and sweet neighbour and her son, to whom he starts to form an attachment. The three of them start spending time together, and he is seen to be a potential father figure. We are also introduced to some shady mobsters, with whom his car mechanic boss is involved with.
But next the neighbours’ husband, who has been in jail for an unspecified crime, makes an unwelcome return – even though he is clearly a guy who is trying hard to be good to his family. He owes protection money to the mob, and so is immediately drawn back into the underworld, with consequences for our hero and the wife and son.
Next there is a robbery that goes tragically wrong when the husband is shot and killed as part of a setup, and soon the violence quickly escalates as it transpires that half a million dollars are at stake. When the mob murders our hero’s boss, and comes after the wife, he has to go on the offensive- with devastating results.
I love the movie because it has a great sense of style, a terrific lead performance from Ryan Gosling, and a powerful mix of elements and influences that combine to form a great story about love, death, loyalty – and great driving. It also takes me back to the sort of ethos and vibe that a lot of my favourite childhood movies from the 80s had, about a low key, run down America where you could find a hero willing and able to take on bad people – and win.