At the end of the film Michael Clayton, just after George Clooney‘s Michael Clayton character has gotten Tilda Swinton‘s character to make a statement, with the police eavesdropping, that would get her and her boss played by Ken Howard, sent to prison, Clayton leaves the building. Upon hitting the street, he hails a taxi cab. He climbs in, shuts the door and says nothing. We then get this exchange:
Taxi Driver: So what are we doing?
Michael Clayton (peeling off some bills and handing them to the unseen driver): Give me $50 worth. Just Drive….
Just Drive. Haven’t we heard that so many times before? We’ve had films about taxi drivers, and race car drivers. We’ve had actors whom we may not have been familiar with at the time of the film, who went on to become well known actors. Case in point – Robert Duvall as the cabbie who drove Steve McQueen‘s Detective Frank Bullitt around back in 1968. We’ve had car thieves like Nicholas Cage in Gone in 60 Seconds, and we’ve had untold, unnamed, and uncountable faceless wheel men who drove the getaway cars in a zillion criminal ventures that happened on screen. We’ve had a film about a chauffeur (Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy). To make a long story short – we’ve had men, and women, driving something on screen, since there were films and since motorized vehicles like cars, boats, or even planes and trains started to show up in the movies.
Now we have a film called Drive. Ryan Gosling has the role of the Driver. We never do get his actual name. He does stunt driving for the movies, works as a mechanic, and on the side he drives getaway cars in heists. He has no back-story. We know nothing about him other than that he’s cool, calm, and studies maps of LA every day, the same way we read a newspaper on a regular basis.