Having read the various reviews and watched its director, Nicolas Winding Refn, use the f-word at half eight in the morning when describing his new film to BBC Breakfast’s aghast Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams, I was keener than a world championship tiddlywinks contestant to see the new car film, Drive.
As its title suggests, Drive is part homage, part sequel to the legendary 1978 movie, The Driver, starring Ryan O’Neal, Bruce Dern and the unfathomably elegant Isabella Adjani.
It is also, claim its creators, supposed to recapture the iconic, insatiably bleak atmosphere first delivered in films like Two Lane Blacktop, Carquake, Vanishing Point and Bullitt.
In one fairly obvious sense, the film succeeds because it is a truly poignant way in which to spend an hour and a half inside a darkened room.
The character at its centre is a stuntman-cum-getaway driver who falls tragically for the wife of someone he’s doing a job for. And for much of the time the tension, mood and sheer suspense of the film is, it must be said, extremely beguiling.
But what Drive resolutely fails to deliver is any actual driving sequences that will make the true rev-head want to stop, rewind and rewatch. There are some passages of driving in it, of course, but they are not especially well executed, neither are they the images you remember the film for, long after its credits have rolled – whereas in films like Le Mans, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, The Driver and so on, the chase sequences and displays of supreme wheelmanship are THE most enduring images of all.