Drive (2011) is a smart, subversive & soulful film, in ways that most examples of its genre never aspire to, a rarified genre subset of stripped-down, semi-arty, and quasi-existentialist action films that include Point Blank, Bullitt, and The Driver. The film is no less bolstered by an excellent performance from Ryan Gosling who blends tough & tender to breathe an air of freshness into the outdated action hero archetype.

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and the screenplay was written by Hossein Amini, Drive is based on James Sallis’s 2005 novel of the same name. It follows the story of an unnamed and mysterious Driver (Ryan Gosling), who, having met Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her younger son Benicio (Kaden Leos), sees an opportunity for a different life. When Irene’s husband (Oscar Isaac) is released from jail and threatened by old connections, Driver offers his help. The story unfolds from there into a noir crime thriller accompanied by a breath-taking soundtrack.

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Refn chose Johnny Jewel of Desire and Chromatics to score the film. He wanted electronic music and to have it be abstract, on occasion, so viewers can see things from the Driver’s perspective. Although Jewel’s music was used in the score, at the last minute the studio hired composer Cliff Martinez to imitate the style and feel of Jewel’s bands Chromatics and Glass Candy. Refn gave him a sampling of songs he liked and asked Martinez to emulate the sound, resulting in “a kind of retro, 80ish, synthesizer Europop”. Cliff Martinez and Matthew Newman help to sculpt nostalgic 80’s synth-pop soundscapes that breathe cool into these gripping scenes.

“Driver” is a skilled Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Though he projects an icy exterior, lately he’s been warming up to a pretty neighbor named Irene and her young son, Benicio. When Irene’s husband gets out of jail, he enlists Driver’s help in a million-dollar heist. The job goes horribly wrong, and Driver must risk his life to protect Irene and Benicio from the vengeful masterminds behind the robbery.

It is a good film with great visual flair, in the style of Elmore Leonard or Quentin Tarantino, and with a little of their natural gruesome gaiety and gallows humor. Gosling has charisma and presence, although his facial expression is often set to “sardonic”. It’s a fun, if not exhilarating, ride, one sped along with the help of a wonderfully assembled cast.

In the opening scene of Drive, we learn about the protagonist’s profession, his trademark, the mood of the scene, as well as an important plot point that comes up later in the film all with a sweeping shot of a room. The opening scene is able to capture the use of action and classic crime noises whilst also taking a back seat in a way of immersing the viewer and building the tension of the scene – it aims for the quieter elements with low tones of the Synthesizers, the sounds of the radios, and the rumbling of the car.

Steeped in a beautifully shot noir tone and accompanied by the stylistic electronic soundtrack, Drive balances silence and limited dialogue with kinetic visuals and superb subtext. The Sound of Drive plays a crucial part in engaging the audience, captivating us in a tense and thrilling ride of the film as we are taken through the motions of this captivating piece of film.

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The Opening Scene in Drive (2011)

8.7

The Opening Scene

9.0/10

Rotten Tomatoes Rating

9.3/10

IMDB Rating

7.8/10

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  • Drive is a bomb of coolness and style that strikes the senses and assaults your expectations.