It's one of the most revered roles in the history of film, Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. Robert De Niro's descent into insanity is the stuff of film legend. It seems quite fitting on that film's silver anniversary comes a character in the dazzling Drive that could pass for Bickle's boy, Ryan Gosling's "Driver", a man who proves more than worthy to wear a satin jacket adorned with a supersized scorpion on its back.
Gosling is a revelation in his role as stunt-driver-by-day, getaway-driver-by-night. The way Gosling collapses his character into a full-on lunatic hellbent on revenge is quite remarkable - in short, you screw with the scorpion, you get the stinger and some serious facial pulverization.
Drive is an acting tour de force, Hollywood's new "it girl" Carey Mulligan plays Irene, the woman that draws Gosling out from his loner-leaning status and Albert Brooks (yes, that Albert Brooks) is superb; stealing scenes as an ex-Hollywood-producer-turned-thug - a tautological description if ever there were one.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) struts his Gen X status throughout. From the stellar electro-infused soundtrack to the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City fluorescent pink font splashed over the opening and closing credits, the Dane's indie-noir approach to the material proves to be brilliant.
LA hasn't been captured this grittily and gloriously since Michael Mann visited the City of Angels in two of my all-time faves: Heat and Collateral.
With a titanic infusion of pound-feet of torque, Drive is the best movie of 2011, a raging race that's part F1 and equal part demolition derby. Refn has created a film that is destined to become a classic, a mind-blowing amalgamation that will remind you why sitting in a darkened theater can be one of life's most rousing experiences.