In the movie Drive, the central character has a special talent. Driving, yes, but more compelling, he can stay calm and focused during intense moments, like driving fast and escaping the police, or like when someone is trying to kill him. It is a gift, his ability to stay cool, it helps him get by. But it may have helped him get involved with the wrong people.
Behind the wheel, his eyes centered on the road, he is ever wary, a taut spring. His smile is soft, his eyes rarely blink. He says pretty much only what is necessary to say. He seems satisfied staying in the background. Somehow he has ended up half way between good people and bad.
He meets a girl from down the hall, an innocent, vulnerable mother to a young son. He helps her out. Watching television, the boy says you can always tell who the bad guys are. Driver asks: ‘How do you know?’
The girl’s husband has been away, in prison, for what we don’t know. He eventually comes home, and has problems he can’t handle. He is roughed up to pay escalating demands for protection payments he may or may not have ‘purchased’ while in prison. This threatens the mother and boy. Driver decides to help get the money, in a robbery he has been asked to drive for, but things go awry.
Bad guys show up for the same money. They kill the husband. In a sinister luxury SUV, they give chase. Driver races away. He manages to get bumper to bumper – in front of them – going very fast, backward, in control. They think they have him, but just near the end of the road, an end they don’t see because they are looking at him, he spins around to the side, and they go on to crash.
But he gets found, and almost killed. He acts fast, and survives.
Somehow, he knows how to deal with creeps, how you have to speak to them, how you cannot trust them, how they only respond to threat and force, how you sometimes have to kill them.
But they keep coming, like insects. He has to stomp one to death, in front of her, in an elevator, to protect her. He has no choice. She watches. Maybe she thinks he is one of them. She leaves. What can he say?
They kill his friend.
He must have thought he was one of them, at one time, but with her he seems to realize he isn’t. He is not going to go back.
He phones her: “I just want you to know that you and the boy are the best thing that has ever happened to me”.
Then he goes to settle things, to ensure her safety. He gives the ring leader a chance to honor an honest deal. The guy doesn’t, of course, and Driver, nearly killed, has to do what he has to do.
He leaves the money with the body.