SILENCE is golden. For the opening 10 minutes of this nail-biting thriller, the lead character – a Hollywood stunt man who moonlights as a getaway driver – says nothing.
He lets his skills behind the wheel do the talking, as police cars and a helicopter give chase through LA.
The insistent orchestral score merges with the heavy breathing of two robbers in the back of the car as the camera nervously surveys the streets, waiting for the coast to clear.
The tension is agonising... then rubber burns, the engine revs and we hold on tight. For the next 90 minutes, we don’t let go.
Driver (Ryan Gosling) performs death-defying stunts in big-budget films but when he’s not on a set, he works as a mechanic and acts as a getaway driver for pal Shannon (Bryan Cranston).
There are romantic complications when Driver falls for Irene (Carey Mulligan) and he acts as a getaway driver for her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) who’s fresh out of prison and needs cash to pay off a debt to keep her and their son safe.
But the planned robbery goes wrong, marking Driver for death at the hands of hoodlums Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman).
Adapted from the novel by James Sallis, this is an adrenaline-fuelled journey into the blackened heart of a man living on the fringes of society, and the plot skids with sickening inevitability towards its bloody resolution.
Its Danish director punctuates Driver and Irene’s doomed romance with scenes of graphic violence.
Gosling is mesmerising as the speed freak loner, catalysing smouldering screen chemistry with Mulligan, while Brooks and Perlman are terrifying as mobsters.