Box art for Drive (2011)

Drive (2011)

action & adventure, drama, thrillers

Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, about a Hollywood stunt performer (Gosling) who moonlights as a wheelman for criminals discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 17
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Crime drama is exciting, well-made, and shockingly violent.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this superbly made crime drama (which won the prestigious Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival) starts off quietly but eventually contains shocking amounts of violence, including a woman's head getting blown apart by a shotgun blast and the main character stomping a man's head until it squashes like a pumpkin. Language is also very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y." Several women are topless in one long scene, and the two main characters have a romantic relationship even though she's already married. The main character is a criminal without many redeeming qualities, but he's still fascinating.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the impact of the movie's extreme violence. How does it compare to what you see in horror movies? Which is more upsetting? Why?
  • Is the main character a "hero"? Are viewers meant to find him sympathetic even though he's a criminal? What makes "bad guy" characters compelling?
  • What is the movie's attitude toward women? What are the female characters like? Are they three-dimensional?
  • Is the little boy in this movie ever in true danger, or is the danger only suggested? What's the difference?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Drive (2011) reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn neatly manage the hat trick of paying homage to those wheelmen of yore while reinvigorating the genre with style, smarts and flashes of wit.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, September 16, 2011

Rotten: In grabbing our attention, Refn] diverts it from what matters. The horror lingers and seeps; the feelings are sponged away.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fresh: The first half of Drive unfolds like a romantic reverie.

- Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News, Thursday, September 15, 2011

Audience Reviews

5 stars

Probably the best movie of the year. No one will know it, unfortunately, since everyone watched Lion King 3D this weekend (really people?). Gosling and Mulligan control the audience -- from laughs to tears to disgust -- in spite of the fact I think there are no more than 20 lines of dialog in the first 30 minutes of the movie. I'll refrain from saying something more in homage to their understated performances. The real story here is ... the storytelling. Unlike Hanna, the artistic touches used to enhance frames never felt heavy-handed. Slow builds to mini-climaxes featured a very effective "fluid flashback" technique that made these moments feel like Gosling revving his engine before speeding away from a LA traffic light. Yeah okay, I'll stop. Just go see this movie. In theaters -- you'll have a lot more fun that way.

- jarobb3, Thursday, November 15, 2012

4 stars

When I got home after a long drive from the cinema, I wasn't entirely sure why 'Drive' was getting the praise it was getting. Coincidentally, I had travelled up to North London to pick up a new car. As my local area's cinema coverage is poor, the only place I could catch 'Drive' was in London. The plan was to pick up the car, find my way onto the M25 and see an afternoon screening in Romford, Essex. Unfortunately, this proved to be a minefield of stress, Romford was packed full of people and cars, I was sure that I'd miss the screening, but I'd got far enough into Romford for me to persevere. I got there just in time, but it was these conditions that led me to make one of the biggest misjudgements in my film watching history... I was attracted to the style of 'Drive', but more, perhaps macabrely, to the supposed violence of it. The film is spattered with torrents of claret, stark shankings and devastating gunshot wounds; there's also a spot of stomping. The film dishes out violence as it is, ugly and nasty. The film started strongly, Gosling was convincing and intimidating, and he remains that way throughout the film, but surely playing the strong silent type is easy money? 'Strong silent type' is something of an understatement, the man is utterly devoid of conversational skills, only when he is working or amidst the drama of the latter half of the film does he fire up. Gosling is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's iconic anti-hero roles; but I also made a connection with Dustin Hoffman's performance in 'Rain Main'. It's this extremity that perhaps makes his relationship with Irene (Carey Mulligan) slightly implausible (some of their interactions are stupidly painful). Despite this, I think the Driver's growing intensity and his dexterity in violence is gripping; Gosling really nailed it. After my first viewing I was really quite ambivalent about 'Drive'. "The film wasn't bad" I thought, "I'm glad that I saw it". I liked the exciting and somewhat smart and fresh car chase in the introduction; I liked the mood of the film. For the most part, I felt it was the prior knowledge of the film's uncompromising nature that created the sombre, moody atmosphere. It was also the fitting, bass heavy electronic soundtrack that complimented the night sequences. But I left the cinema feeling somewhat hollow; I was preoccupied with how I was going to navigate the M25 and the Dartford Crossing. Despite the film having lack of depth and a meagre ending; its unforgiving nature made the film stay under my skin. It made me think that perhaps a second viewing would change my opinion, but on first viewing I couldn't agree with its surprisingly positive reviews, and certainly not with the current 'tomato meter' of 93%. I was surprised at how the film was actually being complimented for being vacuous, "How has it managed that?" I thought. After coming to the conclusion that perhaps a second viewing was necessary, I did just that a few months later, and I preferred it, quite a lot in fact. I suppose I knew what to expect, so I made the most of it, lapping up its style and visceral edge. How on earth did the film possibly make a white padded jacket with a yellow scorpion on the back cool? And the driving gloves, they just reek of cool, oh and that black Ford Mustang... I am so impressionable. It got my heart pumping like few other films had accomplished; I really couldn't believe how the film had grown on me. I vehemently disagree with the supposed 'subtexts' some people have mentioned. I have read condescending statements on how viewers should 'look closer' to 'understand' the film; pompous nonsense from pseudo-intellectuals. Ultimately, though, like so many films, especially those that fall into the revenge/retribution format (think Death Wish/Taxi Driver), they're good until the last stanza, they're hard to wrap up. But I even preferred the ending on second viewing, it leaves unanswered questions; out of the ways they could've ended it, this was probably the most appropriate choice. Drive is an engrossing, genuinely nail-biting film. Though it is a trifle superficial, it's guaranteed to thrill you.

- Callahan441, Tuesday, December 25, 2012

3 stars

In a way Drive is a very typical Nicolas Winding Refn film. It has same gritty and surreal way of mixing violence and poetic camerawork into more darker undertones. Refn has always been an interesting director when it comes to showing our violent sides as a humans. He is not afraid of to look into our psyche and dig deep into it. With his Pusher-trilogy, Bleeder, Fear X and especially Drive, Refn has created a portrait of violence inside us. I myself find Refn very talented director but also feel that too often it seems that he is copying too heavily from other directors like Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch. Fear X was a film full of references to Lynch's work, while with his Bronson Refn clearly tried to do his version of Clockwork Orange. Now with Drive his aiming for territory more familiar to Michael Mann and William Friedkin. This is a film that is like a mixture of Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A. and Michael Mann's Miami Vice. Is it as good as those films? My humble opinion is not quite. While it definetly could go mentioned in a same sentence with Friedkin's film but Refn is no match to Mann as a director. But then a again there are not many directors out there who can match someone like Michael Mann as a director. I don't know if i am being fair in comparing these films or directors together or is it even necessary, but for me it would be odd thing not to mention it because these all directors and films share so much in common. Of course Refn does have his own voice and style as a director. As i said that he is often more interested in violence inside us and he is not afraid to show it to us in audience. One of the most impressive elements in Drive is its cold and disturbing style it has. There is oddly fascinating menace in Refn's images and composer Cliff Martinez's amps up the brooding atmosphere to the maximum. Actors are mostly ok here but this film is more about style than actors or content. It is sort of an homage to a films like this. In the end Drive might be a bit overrated as a film and i am not sure if it really is something so special to earn its possible cult status. You still cannot deny that it has some very effective moments and elements in it.

- emilkakko, Friday, March 1, 2013