Drive tells the story of a man we know only as ‘Driver’ or ‘Kid’ (Ryan Gosling, of Half Nelson fame), who is a man of very few words, with a toothpick sticking out of his mouth, and a wide eyed non-judgmental look at the world most of the time. Driver works as a getaway driver for criminals, a stunt driver for the movies, and a mechanic at a garage. He mostly does what his boss tells him to do, gives his criminal clients a strict 5-minute window period to avail of his services, and performs his stunts with unnatural nonchalance and precision. He also has a liking for an ugly silver jacket with a scorpion on the back.
His boss is pretty fond of him, and has racetrack aspirations for him. Soon, he meets his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), eavesdrops over her and her son in the supermarket, plays staring games with the son, and well, begins to fall in love with the neighbor, or so we’re told. Driver continues to act like an innocent kid who doesn’t seem to know how to react or what to say in a situation like this. There’s a scene where both the leads keep smiling alternately at each other, for at least 5 minutes, and though you laugh initially, you just wish someone would get on with it.
The entire first half of the movie plays out with minimal dialogues, a captivating background score, and a slightly irritating song called A Real Hero playing multiple times throughout the movie, each time while the Driver is doing stuff which the director thinks makes him look like ‘a real hero’. The first time especially, it just ends up looking super-pretentious. Every time Driver opens his mouth and actually says something, it comes as a slight shock and an achievement, since he looks like he is incapable of uttering any words. Though nothing much is really happening in the movie in the first half, everyone seems to be tightly strung, both the people on screen and those in the audience. We know something is going to happen, so we watch and wait. I spend most of the time trying to guess which psychiatric condition driver has.
Soon enough Irene’s husband, Standard, is released from jail, and comes back into their lives. He is in trouble and is being blackmailed by some goons. When Driver realizes that Irene and her son are in danger, he decides to help Standard out in order to save them. But, things start going wrong, and that’s when you sit up in your seats and start enjoying the movie.
There’s a scene when half the theater jumps out of their seats which signifies the start of the second part of the movie with its uninhibited violence. Thus starts a series of kills, and every time a person enters the frame, you can’t help but hold on to your seat and wonder how he is going to die. The violence, the sheer amount of controlled and ruthless rage which Driver displays, and the novel ways in which people are killed without use of firearms, is, according to me, the USP of this movie. Driver manages to look devastatingly terrifying, which is a wonderful contrast from his innocent wide eyed look in the first part. There’s a sequence where he wears a mask and kills someone on the beach, it is so brilliant, you should go watch the movie just for that sequence. There are also two brilliant car chase sequences in the movie, likely to leave you open mouthed with awe.
Ryan Gosling acts fabulously well, and so does most of the supporting cast. Carey Mulligan does nothing much but stare at the Driver. This movie isn’t good or bad, it is an experience, and one I think you should have. Don’t expect entertainment, don’t expect a sweet romance, don’t expect an action movie with a hero who punches everyone and then gets the girl. No. Expect something different, and, in its own way, beautiful. You’ll be glad you watched this movie, if nothing for a change from our regular fare.