Rashid N.’s review published on Letterboxd:
As the studio logos faded away and the immensely popular Drive began, I enjoyed an exciting opening filled with breathtaking night shots, enticing action, and perfect music that all set the mood for the rest of the film. If only the rest of the film was actually as good.
Racking in the talents of multiple great actors and having a tone and vibe entirely inspired by Blade Runner, Michael Mann, and Jean-Pierre Melville (with a topping of Nicolas Winding Refn's own unique neon style), Drive's success and popularity with both the mainstream and more critical side of cinematic audiences is clear to understand. Unfortunately, I don't really love Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan (two very talented actors, especially Mulligan who recently did a marvellous job in Promising Young Woman) staring at each other blankly for umpteen minutes and then calling it a good romance and aspect of the film, which comes at the expense of poor Oscar Isaac.
Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, and Albert Brooks are much more alive throughout the film so props to them and to Refn for allowing them to be alive compared to the blank Gosling and Mulligan, yet they and other specifications such as the soundtrack and cinematography are not enough to bring Drive up to a standard worthy of its status, at least personally.
The film made me appreciate directors Melville and Mann more than beforehand; their style has a beautiful attraction to them and their influence can be seen throughout cinema including Drive. Previously, I loved Refn's Bronson and Bleeder thus, I had a good level of anticipation for his most famous piece but it sadly lacked enough depth and originality for me to care much. Quite a bit to love, though not enough.