By Ben Nance–

Certain movies have the power to stick in the mind long after you’ve seen them, while others simply wish to excite with B-movie thrills. “Drive” achieves both of these without once breaking a sweat. By the time the brilliant opening scene transitions into a cool title sequence set to ‘80s synth-pop, you know you are in for something different, something truly special. Make no mistake, “Drive” is not your typical popcorn fare. It is an impossibly cool, unrelentingly violent masterpiece that has the guts and the imagination to take you places other movies do not.

The film stars Ryan Gosling, playing a nameless character referred to only as “The Kid”, or “The Driver.” Driver operates as a Hollywood stuntman by day and a heist wheelman by night. He gets the job done thanks to his steady focus and cool professionalism. His auto mechanic boss, Shannon, portrayed by Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad,” sells his services to criminals with the utmost assurance: “You get this kid behind the wheel, and there’s nothing he can’t do.” After bonding with his apartment neighbor, Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, and her son, acted by Kaden Leos, Driver crosses LA’s most vicious crime boss in a job gone very sour.

“Drive” is artfully directed by Nicolas Rending Refn, the Danish genius behind the cult films “Bronson” and “Valhalla Rising.” Refn brings a distinct European flavor to the film’s Los Angeles setting, transforming the city into a neon labyrinth of death. His sleek visual style makes the quietest of moments feel important. The jarring action set pieces populating the film’s second half take on a slow-fast pace that will have you alternately buckled in suspense and gasping in shock. This is definitely not a movie for the squeamish. The violence in “Drive” hits you like a freight train.

That is not to say the experience isn’t a fun one. On the contrary, “Drive” never fails to entertain. Whether it is the toe-tapping retro soundtrack, the high-octane auto chases, or the villainous scene-stealing performance by Albert Brooks, there is always something to keep you absorbed in the exciting story. Ryan Gosling commands his role with cool restraint, making Driver an iconic movie hero for the ages. “Drive” is the kind of rare, great film that deserves to be seen in theaters. Don’t miss it.

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Photo Courtesy Bold Films