Drive is a 2011 American action-drama heist film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, and starring Ryan Gosling as the principal character, with Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, and Albert Brooks. Although Drive shares several characteristics with the similarly-named 1978 Walter Hill car-chase film, The Driver, it is actually adapted from the 2005 James Sallis novel of the same name, with a screenplay by Hossein Amini.
Like the book, the movie is about a Hollywood stunt performer (played by Gosling) who moonlights as a getaway driver. Prior to its September 2011 release, it had been shown at a number of film festivals. At the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Drive was praised and even received a standing ovation. Reviews from critics have been positive, with many drawing comparisons to work from previous eras. Praise has also been given to Gosling's and Brooks' performances. The director has said influences came from Bullitt (1968) and The Day of the Locust (1975); and that Drive was a tribute to Alejandro Jodorowsky.
A driver (Ryan Gosling), who remains unnamed, works in Shannon's (Bryan Cranston) garage, picks up occasional stunt driving work, and moonlights as a getaway driver. His driving skills and precision are made evident when he helps two burglars evade police and split up at the Staples Center's crowded parking lot. The “Driver” always works anonymously, never for the same people twice, and makes a point of allotting them only five minutes to do their business.
Shannon approaches Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks), a mobster, for backing a scheme to buy a NASCAR racecar and have the “Driver” race it. Bernie agrees to back the plan with $300,000 after “Driver” exhibits his driving skills. Bernie is in business with a Jewish mobster Nino (Ron Perlman), who, it is learned later, once had Shannon's pelvis broken because he overcharged for his services.
The “Driver” becomes involved with his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). The “Driver” and Irene appear to be slowly developing a romantic connection when her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), comes home from prison. Standard owes "protection money" to Cook (James Biberi) from his time in prison. Cook beats him for it and threatens to come after Irene and Benicio if Standard does not do a job for them.
Concerned for Irene, the “Driver” agrees to help Standard placate Cook by robbing a pawn shop. Also participating in the heist is Blanche (Christina Hendricks), a woman associated with Cook. The job goes fatally wrong as Standard is shot dead by the pawn shop owner. As the “Driver” and Blanche escape, they are pursued by a mysterious car..
The “Driver” and Blanche elude their pursuers and hide out in a motel room. There he discovers that the amount of the stolen money was much more than he had been told. He threatens to hurt Blanche if she does not tell the truth, and she tells him the car belonged to Cook, and they planned to double-cross the Driver and Standard.
Two of Cook's men attack them in the motel room, killing Blanche with a shotgun blast and injuring the “Driver” before he kills both of them.
The “Driver” confronts Cook and learns that Nino has been behind the heist all along. Nino explains to Bernie that the money from the pawn shop belonged to the East Coast mafia, which planned to begin muscling in on their turf in Los Angeles.
The “Driver” attempts to make a deal with Nino: exchange the money for Irene's safety. However, Nino sends a hitman, whom the “Driver” brutally kills in an elevator while Irene cowers in terror. After Bernie kills Shannon and the “Driver” kills Nino, Bernie and the Driver both meet in a restaurant, ostensibly to broker another deal of money for safety. In the parking lot afterward, as the money is pulled from the trunk of the car belonging to the “Driver,” Bernie stabs the “Driver” in the abdomen. The attack is not fatal, however, and the “Driver” stabs and kills Bernie, leaving his body on the ground next to the satchel of money. The story ends with the “Driver” driving through the night.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Ryan Gosling ... Driver
Carey Mulligan ... Irene
Bryan Cranston ... Shannon
Albert Brooks ... Bernie Rose
Oscar Isaac ... Standard
Christina Hendricks ... Blanche
Ron Perlman ... Nino
Kaden Leos ... Benicio
Jeff Wolfe ... Tan Suit
James Biberi ... Cook
Russ Tamblyn ... Doc
Joe Bucaro III ... Chauffeur (as Joey Bucaro)
Tiara Parker ... Young Woman
Tim Trella ... Hitman #1
Jim Hart ... Hitman #2 (as Jimmy Hart)
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Produced by Michel Litvak
Screenplay by Hossein Amini
Based on Drive by