Drive is about, well, a driver. He’s cold, he’s calculated and he’s damn good at what he does. As he puts it, “you tell me where to be and when, I’ll give you five minutes to get your job done, anything inside of that, I’m yours no matter what, outside of that, you’re on your own.” He lives a life with no allegiances, no moral compass and with the precision of a clock. That is, until he falls for the single mother next door and her grade school aged son. Now there is a kink in his clock and, unfortunately for him, his bosses depend on his machine-like precision and they don’t have much patience for his new personal life. Soon, their patience wears out when he inadvertently costs his bosses a ton of cash when attempting to help his new crush out of a bind.
Drive is much more similar to the tense, slow boil of French New Wave Thrillers like Le Cercle Rouge, L’Argent or, especially, Le Samurai. It is slow, it is quiet, it is highly stylized and boy is it tense. The protagonist is like a rope pulled just to it’s breaking point and, if it feels the pull any more, it just might snap. And, man, can this guy snap. He’s smiling, warm, nice, even loving one moment and then will be cracking your skull with a hammer the next. While an obvious psychopath, he seems intensely intent on maintaining control, which is why, when he does lose control, he seems to almost physically fight it. His arms tremble, his expression denotes he’s sick to his stomach and sweat will just pour off him. He wants so much to maintain control in all he does, that doing otherwise seems to make him ill.
Of course, this is all part of why it throws him for such a loop to fall in love with the single mom living next door. Talk about out of his routine. While ‘this criminal who lives like a clock but falls for his counterpart’ bit has been done before (I love it in The Professional), it’s done well here. You like her, you like him when he’s with her, you want it to work out. I won’t tell you if it does or not, of course, but I can tell you that ever moment until the conclusion is interesting to say the least.
If I had a single complaint it would be that the movie wasn’t restrained enough. I don’t mean it needed less dialogue or anything (any quieter and it’d be a silent movie), but rather that it often showed a little too much violence (taking away from the scare factor), stayed on a shot way too long or had sections of scenes that just weren’t necessary. This movie is not without it’s faults, but overall it was stylish, tense, engaging and a great throwback to some of my favorite French dramas of all time.