Nothing ruins an action flick like a weeping protagonist (I'm looking at you Tobey "The Sobbing Spider" Maguire). Whatever happened to the strong, silent-types like The Stranger or Bullitt? Turns out they've been reincarnated into a single-minded wrecking machine simply called, the driver.
Drive is a 2011 crime drama centering around a mysterious and seldom-discussed stuntman/mechanic/getaway driver who falls in love with his neighbor but runs afoul of the mob after helping her newly-freed, ex-con husband try to clear his debt with them. The cast includes Ryan Gosling as the driver and Carey Mulligan as his love interest, as well as Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks, and Ron Perlman. Nicolas Winding Refn directed.
Thee isn't anything not awesome about this movie. Without an extensive back-story or even a name, the driver becomes more than a guy just running from his past and being pulled into another shady situation, he's elevated to almost a singular force. He rarely says more than a dozen words at a time and it's interesting to watch how that incites the characters around him to open up and divulge more than if he had kept talking.
The acting is top-notch. Gosling and Mulligan have great chemistry, Perlman and Brooks make exquisite Jewish gangsters (ever seen Al Brooks stab a dude in the neck with a kitchen knife? You will. And lo! The glorious ultraviolence!), and Christina Hendricks was great I think, though I don't remember her having any lines. The direction and cinematography was simply incredible. Refn's ability to convey the growing tension between characters with just a soft focus shift or quick pan is sublime. Like, jaw-droppingly good.
This is definitely a must-see even if you're not into the genre—easily on par with The Man from Nowhere. It's available on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon.