In Drive, Ryan Gosling plays "the driver." Think of him as a Clint Eastwood "man with no name" figure from a Sergio Leone Western, only with a muscle car instead of a horse.
Directed by Denmark-born Nicolas Winding Refn (the Pusher trilogy), Drive cruises through the Southern California landscape with icy aplomb, just like its hero, a slightly shady character with a good heart and a need for speed. The "kid," as he is sometimes referred to, also drives stunt cars for movies, which gives Refn a chance for some clever film noir references.
The driver has managed to skirt trouble and the law, but his ambition is to get off the back streets, and that forces him to deal with a couple of local gangsters (Ron Perlman and a terrific Albert Brooks). He also has eyes for his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), who has a kid — and a husband in prison (Oscar Isaac). But he's about to get out, so you know there is trouble on the way.
With all these disreputable characters and guns hanging around, it isn't long before the action revs up.
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Gosling makes an interesting hero. He doesn't have the natural steely look of Eastwood — it's softer — but a toughness comes through.
Drive comes across as an interesting diversion — sort of a spin around L.A. at night, just taking in the passing lights and neon and not really seeing anything new. But it has some cool moments, and the cast knows how to step on the gas.
Drive retails for $26.99 or $30.99 Blu-ray.