Recalling the genesis of the film, Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn spoke about his first disastrous meeting with actor Ryan Gosling, who at the time was interested in having Refn direct the still gestating movie 'Drive' - based on a book of the same name by James Sallis. Just prior to the meeting Refn had taken ill with a terrible fever, in the hope of alleviating his condition, he ingested in his own words "A sizable quantity of pain medication", leaving him "High as a kite". With his condition worsening, Refn was forced to abandon the meeting and asked Gosling to drive him back to his hotel. Here in a vast, strange city was a foreigner being driven through the black night of L.A. by a movie star, the car radio the only sound deflecting the silence between them. In that moment a hazy half idea suddenly sprung into Refn’s fevered mind, one he quickly shared with Gosling: ‘We could make a movie about a man who drives around at night listening to pop music, it being his only emotional release’, Gosling’s response to this eureka moment was suitably nonchalant: ‘Cool, I’m in.’
What eventually birthed from that night is a movie that offers a rare return to the cerebral automotive escapism of such ‘70s classics as, 'Two lane blacktop', 'Vanishing Point' and most notably the Ryan O’Neal starring 'The Driver'. Which Refn combines with the glossy feel of '80s neo noir crime cinema and the synth-pop-cool of 'Miami Vice'. Like Friedkin’s 'To Live and Die in L.A' or 'American Gigolo', this is a work of sight and sound, a world away from Michael Mann’s multi-layered epic 'Heat', as the plot here, is almost incidental to how the movie makes you feel, both audibly and visually.