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These are not often traditional plots of award-winning films: a grizzled cop trying to complete one last case in his final days before retirement. A detective investigating a series of murders who’s revealed to be the killer in the final scenes. A Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver seeking revenge on the gangsters who double crossed him.

But Drive, with the high-concept storyline that’s third on the list, is different. And one of the films of the year.

Indie favourite Ryan Gosling is the stuntman-cum-getaway driver who, after striking up a friendship with his neighbour (Carey Mulligan), helps her recently freed husband on a job that will pay off his prison debts. And when it all goes wrong, he discovers he’s become a marked man.

This might still sound a little more Fast & Furious than its Best Director victory at this year’s Cannes Film Festival suggests, but it’s all in the delivery. With Bronson’s Nicolas Winding Refn directing, Drive is part arthouse neo-noir, part disturbingly violent action thriller, all set to a John Carpenter-style electronica soundtrack. It also has Gosling delivering a near-silent (and entirely nameless) hero in the classic Clint Eastwood vein.

Based on a 2006 novel of the same name, when Gosling became attached he was able to select his own director and picked Refn, saying, “There was no other choice.” To prepare for the role, the notoriously meticulous actor restored the 1973 Chevrolet Malibu he drives in the film.

Drive also stars Mad Men’s flame-haired office manager Christina Hendricks as a low-level criminal, Hellboy himself Ron Perlman as the murderous Mob boss and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston (also known as Malcolm In The Middle’s dad) in a stand-out turn as Gosling’s boss.

It may not have a megabucks budget or a former wrestler behind the wheels of its cars, but Drive hits with the impact of Gosling’s Chevy Malibu travelling at top speed.

Drive is at cinemas nationwide from 23 September

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