Drive (2011)

2011's best film makes its Blu-ray debut with an AV package that's just as impressive

How do you follow up an existential viking movie? If you’re Valhalla Rising director Nicolas Winding Refn you do it by heading over to Hollywood and making the best Michael Mann movie Michael Mann never made.

Adapted from a book by James Sallis, Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who spends his nights moonlighting as a getaway driver. But when he makes a connection to a neighbour (Carey Mulligan) his carefully controlled life takes a several wrong turns. What follows is both surprisingly tender and shockingly violent.

Picture: It comes as no real surprise to learn that 2011’s best-looking film makes for a goregous hi-def experience. Sure, there are sharper 1080p encodes out there and more detailed ones as well. But there are very few Blu-ray encodes that look so effortlessly cinematic.

From the golden autumnal hues accompanying the majority of the daytime scenes to the washes of blue and red accompanied by suffocating blacks during nocturnal shots, this AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode handles everything that is asked of it with precision and consumate ease. And for those of you who require something with a little more pop – just take a look at the vibancy and fine detailing evident in the shots down the aisles of the Big 6 Market in Chapter 2, or the immaculately rendered close-up of Ron Perlman’s eyes in Chapter 9 for some eye-popping treats
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Even if Drive’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 sonics aren’t always as dynamic as you might imagine, this is still a remarkably accomplished mix and ranks amogst my favourite Blu-ray soundtracks.

Given the film’s rather taciturn protagonist, the film’s narrative is driven by atmospherics and music rather than dialogue – employing audio elements such as a persistent rumble of bass (like something out of David Lynch’s Eraserhead) to build an atmosphere of dread and heighten the tension. Even more satisfying is the quality of the music reproduction is the lossless mix. From the first electronic beats of Kavinsky’s Nightcall over the main titles in Chapter 2 you’ll be struck by the incredible tonal range and depth on display.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: With no commentary track or Making of... included, the closest you get to any disucssion of the film’s production is a 41min Q&A with director Nicolas Winding Refn.

Thankfully, it’s a great chat. The filmmaker kicks things off with an apology (‘I’m sorry I said f**k on BBC this morning’) before launching into discussion of casting, violence and archetypal characters. He even finds time to chat about The Dying of the Light, a Harrison Ford film he was set to direct before the star starting changing things (‘I was so happy I got to kill Harrison Ford, but then Harrison decided not to die’).

The remaining extras take the form of the theatrical trailer (2mins/1080p), a TV spot (1min/1080i) and a gallery of seven film stills, 16 poster concepts and a trio of illustrations.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: While lacking in extras, the stunning AV quality ensures Drive is a real Blu-ray joy-ride

Icon Home Entertainment, Region B BD, £25 approx, On sale January 30