BBC2: Saturday 17 October, 10.45pm
Hollywood stunt man and garage mechanic Ryan Gosling moonlights as a getaway driver for hire. Like Jason Statham’s nameless courier in The Transporter, Gosling has rules. Break them and he’ll drive away. That’s what he does. That’s how he defines himself, in as few words as possible: the driver.
He talks even less distinctly than Ryan O’Neal’s anonymous driver in Walter Hill’s 1980s LA noir, The Driver (an obvious inspiration, Michael Mann’s Thief, too). Major character trait: he sucks on a toothpick. The classic mumbling loner who nevertheless takes a shine to Echo Park neighbour Carey Mulligan.
She’s about as interesting as him. Fortunately, the film around them is so lean, mean and efficient, it hardly seems to matter that its two main characters are so similarly bland they could be brother and sister. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks spice things up as dubious financiers, and the set-up detours into a world of overkill.
The driving music’s by Cliff Martinez but the occasional use of songs is sentimental – particularly College’s A Real Hero. Funny, because what this revved-up B-pic really needs is a dynamic star turn. From someone who looks the part. Someone like Steve McQueen. Or Jason Statham.