Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher trilogy, Valhalla Rising) teams up with Ryan Gosling to produce a taut, ferocious and glossy homage to the seedy crime thrillers of the late 70s and early 80s that's dripping with atmosphere and meticulously manufactured cool. Gosling portrays a nameless, taciturn Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for hire, tentatively starting a relationship with his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and bonding with her young son. Things begin to unravel when Irene’s husband is released from prison and returns home, with Gosling’s ‘Driver’ having to offer his services in a heist never likely to go to plan.
Drawing on Walter Hill, early Michael Mann and Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo among others, Drive is a film of stunning beauty and superlative technique. Refn's bravura staging of the automotive action aside, it’s the rich framing of cityscapes and interiors that really grabs the eye, while his deft handling of the near wordless development of ‘Driver’ and Irene’s courtship gives the piece its soul. The measured pace and occasional extreme violence mean this isn’t for everyone, but those who can stomach it will find a near perfect retro-classic made with precision and charisma from a director and star at the top of their game. [Chris Fyvie]