Nicolas Winding Refn’s ultra-stylish neo-noir may be fine as a flashy genre piece, but originality is not its selling point. The film is about a garage mechanic and occasional Hollywood stunt driver (Gosling) who moonlights as a getaway driver, and is essentially a remake or remix of Walter Hill’s The Driver and Michael Mann’s Thief, with extra snippets of ultra-violence (noisily stomped-in skulls, stabbings and razor-slashings) and sentimentality (a drippy unfulfilled relationship with two-expression romantic interest Carey Mulligan) tossed in for contemporary audiences.

Our existentialist hero (all smiling silence and gently murmured murderous threats) somewhat implausibly decides to help out his beloved’s hubby and, immediately and utterly predictably, finds himself up to his eyes in a tangled web of deadly vengeance, deceit and face-saving, the likes of which we’ve seen countless times before.

The main problem with the film is that it is so utterly derivative of movies rather than life: the clumsy dialogue, the visuals, the characterisation, the entire plot feel so over-familiar that nothing, however unlikely, ever comes as a surprise. There are moments when the nocturnal shots of Los Angeles bring to mind superior crime fare, but there’s no substance to all the flash.

As for any emotional heft regarding the protagonist’s feelings for Mulligan’s simpering heroine, forget it: all the smiling stares meant to convey their growing interest in one another soon become tiresome, so that his self-sacrifice feels futile and meaningless.


Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Duration: 100 mintues
Released: Sep 15th
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Kaden Leos, Jeff Wolfe, James Biberi
Language: English
Classification: 18+
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