All I can say about director Nicolas Winding Refn is that he is a very hard-headed guy. At first, he decided to make the Pusher trilogy from his own money to avoid the effects of contemporary Danish film art on his creation. Then he made Fear X, which was a huge failure. After Fear X he finished the last two Pusher-movies to have money for the future. Then he made Valhalla Rising with Mads Mikkelsen and Bronson with Tom Hardy in the title roles. These movies were fine in the point of view of art, but never gained serious amounts of money. But their quality certainly showed that Refn would be domesticated by producers searching for newcomers; Drive is the result of this.
Drive is shocking and awesome, it proves that entertainment can be created by individual style. The film carries a feeling of the '80s, not just with the music but the visuals, too. The story follows a silent but good hearted macho, The Driver (Ryan Gosling) getting himself into trouble. We don't get to know important facts about his past, his life, nothing, but that's not a problem. During the day, The Driver is a stunt in action movies or a car engineer, at night he helps criminals escape from the police. The Driver himself is not a criminal, he lives for the adrenaline. He would do anything for the ones he loves. So when he meets the beautiful girl from the neighborhood (Carey Mulligan) who lives alone with her son and has a dubious husband in jail, The Driver falls in love with her. By this he makes his simple life complicated, even though he just wants to help unselfishly. As I've mentioned, The Driver would do anything for the ones he loves, so this gave enough chance for director Refn to mix humanity with inhuman brutality.
The only fault of Drive is that we know what's going to happen; in Refn's previous movies, especially in Valhalla Rising, the silent hero turns into a killer to protect the ones he loves. In Refn's movies the good is very good, the evil is very evil, and the somehow likeable characters are massacred in the first half of the film.
But what makes Drive a perfect thriller is not just the special directing style, but Ryan Gosling's performance. Actually he gives depth, likeability to his character by doing "nothing". His facial expression never changes, and by this dazzling performance he captures the audience and conquers the screen. He makes his character old-fashioned and modern at the same time, and I think only good actors can do that. Very Oscar-suspicious.