That’s Ryan Gosling at the wheel. He plays Driver (I told you it was existential), a Hollywood stunt racer who moonlights as a getaway wheel man. Gosling is dynamite in the role, silent, stoic, radiating mystery. Driver isn’t into planning robberies. He doesn’t carry a gun. “I drive,” he says. And he proves it in an opening chase scene so thrillingly intense and cleanly edited it will give you whiplash.
Sharing Drive’s metaphorical wheel is Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, a sensation on the Euro art-house circuit with the bruising Pusher trilogy, Valhalla Rising and Bronson. Refn makes his Hollywood debut with Drive without putting his soul or his balls on the auction block. Refn is a virtuoso, blending tough and tender with such uncanny skill that he deservedly won the Best Director prize at Cannes.