In the opening scene we see the driver (Ryan Gosling)talking on the phone discussing how his job as agetaway driver works. We see him wearing a satinracing jacket with a golden scorpion on the back. This isa connotation of the lethal potential the driver has. It istypical that a character in action films has an item ofclothing that would be remembered and for the driverit is his scorpion jacket.The lighting in the majority of the opening scenes arequite low key with lots of shadows cast across thedriver’s face. There is little to no dialogue that thedriver has after his phone call. These are theconnotations of a dark, brooding character that weexpect to see throughout the film. There is no make upon any character in this opening as the characters areall male and it is not typical that men would wear it.
Although the film is primarily of the actiongenre it is an art and character film at heart. Inthe opening scene we are drawn to the driverand the enigma that surrounds him. Whilst inmost Hollywood action films we would becaptured by the cliché conventions of actionthis film has the conventions as a foundry fora much bigger story on top.
We see the driver meet his only friendShanon at a garage. Shannon is verytalkative unlike the driver. The most notableprop is the car. A silver Chevrolet Impala. Itis not an expensive or luxurious car and it issaid that it is the most popular car in thestate of California. It is amongst the rest ofthe muscle cars in Shannons workshop andit makes us think why he didn’t pick one ofthose. The idea is to be discreet, draw noattention to yourself. This is a challenge tothe conventions of action and their propchoices.
Once the Driver has dropped off hisclients to the robbery he waitspatiently in his car for their return.Upon their return the police begin asearch for the Impala. The pursuitbegins but it is not exaggerated in atypical Hollywood manner. Themajority of shots are from within thecar so that the audience experiencesthe chase with the Driver rather thanjust witness the action that wouldtake place in other action films.
The pace of the shots are quite slow but this isprimarily because it is an art film. The symbolismbehind it is to create dramatic tension as we thenslowly build up the chase. In the background wehear the commentary of a basketball game on theradio. The tension of the game builds up in sync withthe chase scene. As the game comes to an end sodoes the chase. The commentator counts down,3,2,1 and as the driver pulls into the stadium theywere playing in. For the first time the lighting isbright. The driver leaves the car takes off his jacketand dons a baseball cap. We see now that this iswho the driver is in the public eye and what he islike at night. The driver challenges conventions oftypical heros as he is a criminal. We also see himgain nothing from any of his actions.
We then cut to the Driver inhis car, driving through thecity listening to synthpop asthe title rolls. The music isvery relatable to the film asit sets the tone for the filmand the enigma around thedriver. There is an eightiesvibe throughout the filmand the idea that the Driveris living a movie through hisbehaviour and attire. Thisintroduces us to him, anormal guy who moonlightsas a getaway driver. Theenigma is set for the film forus to discover who theDriver is, why he does whathe does and where hisnightlife will take him.