Drive revolves around the story of a Hollywood stunt driver who also works as a mechanic and occasionally as a getaway driver during robberies (hey, it’s expensive to live in California!). During the course of his endeavors, he develops a relationship with his neighbor, her son and her ex-con boyfriend who is fresh out of prison.

Conflict ensues when a robbery heist goes bad and the driver (along with his new friends) become the target of some unsavory criminal types…

While this sounds like a story we’ve heard many times before, Driver has a interesting perspective to it that gives it a fresh approach, largely due to the performance of Ryan Gosling as the driver. I had read a lot of rave reviews about his performance here and I can see why, he’s compelling to watch and hits the emotional marks without having to mutter a word.

And while the writing is strong in this film, it was really the performances of the actors that took it to the next level for me. Albert Brooks is especially good as the bad guy kingpin which is surprising since most of his past roles have been more on the light-hearted side. Bryan Cranston is good as the driver’s mentor as is Carey Mulligan as the neighbor/love interest. Christina Hendricks is in here too and shows some of her range outside of her better known role in Mad Men. The film also includes Ron Perlman who turns in another strong performance.

The film is violent but the violence has a reason and while at times surprising, it’s not necessarily glorified in an exploitive way for cheap thrills. The ending is poetic and a fitting conclusion to the ride.

Good story, great cast, definitely worth a viewing.

reviewed by Sean McKnight