“Drive” coasts by on a whole lot of style and not much substance, but that’s OK. When a movie is this stylish, I can’t see any reason to complain.

“Drive” coasts by on a whole lot of style and not much substance, but that’s OK. When a movie is this stylish, I can’t see any reason to complain.

I’ll lay out the basic plot, which is very basic indeed: Ryan Gosling plays a guy known only as the Driver, so-called because just about everything he does involves driving. He’s a Hollywood stunt driver by day, a freelance getaway driver by night and, if everything goes according to plan, he’ll be a racing driver with the help of his mechanic buddy Shannon (Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad”) and local gangster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks of movies a lot less violent than this one.)

Naturally, though, everything does not go according to plan, and that’s because of a woman. After Gosling meets Irene (Carey Mulligan) in the elevator of his apartment, he feels protective of her. And, as it turns out, she needs some protecting, because she and her son are waiting for her husband (Oscar Isaac) to get out of jail. And — of course — once he’s out of jail, he has a big debt to pay off, and the Driver gets involved, and, well, boy, oh boy, that’s when things really stop going according to plan.

It’s not the most original plot of all time (heck, it might be the least original plot of all time), but director Nicolas Winding Refn gives it energy by making “Drive” all about how it feels instead of what’s it’s actually about. The scenes of Gosling driving through the dark streets of Los Angeles accompanied by a very 1980s-sounding score are almost hypnotic, all blacks and blues and pinks slipping past your eyes. Those sequences just about lull you into a trance, which, I’m guessing is just what Refn intended. Because just when you get comfortable, that’s when he tosses some shockingly brutal violence up on the screen.

Most movies — especially modern crime movies — get violent right away, in some misguided attempt to keep their audience on edge. But “Drive” bides its time, just like Gosling purring slowly down the back streets, until the moment is right. Then bam! You won’t be ready for the violence, and you definitely won’t forget it.

Personally, I think it gives the movie the nervous jolt it needed, but I’d also guess that those bloody moments – especially a particularly nasty one in an elevator — cost the movie some Oscar nominations.

That’s a shame (especially for Brooks, who seemed like a shoo-in), but in the long run, it doesn’t matter. A movie like “Drive” develops a cult following over the years and becomes a favorite of people who never saw it in the theater. It’s edgy, it’s weird and sometimes a little too pleased with itself, but it’s also alive in the way so few movies are. If you like some style with your substances and don’t mind a bit (OK, a lot) of bloodshed, “Drive” might be (please, forgive me) right up your alley.

Read Will Pfeifer’s Movie Man blog at rrstar.com/blogs/willpfeifer/ or email him at wpfeifer@rrstar.com.

Some DVDs out Tuesday, Feb. 7

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1”: This is the one where Bella has a creepy vampire baby and Edward somehow eats it out of her stomach? Sorry for the spoilers, but even if you’re not a “Twilight” fan — and I’m definitely not — that sounds like something strange enough to want to see.

“Lady and the Tramp”: True fact: Peggy Lee, who provided several voices for this movie, successfully sued Disney for royalties from sales of the videotape, which was a technology that didn’t exist when she signed her contract. Not many people get money out of the Mouse, but Ms. Lee did.

“A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”: Just the movie you want to be watching in early February!

“Anonymous”: Roland Emmerich, the same director who brought us “Godzilla,” “Independence Day” and “2012” now sets his sights on Shakespeare — and claims he wasn’t really the guy who wrote all those plays. Hopefully there’s a scene where an alien spaceship blows up the Globe Theatre.

And CDs

Van Halen, “A Different Kind of Truth”: David Lee Roth returns for the first Van Halen album since “1984.” In other news, bassist Michael Anthony is out, and Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang is taking his place.

Paul McCartney, “Kisses on the Bottom”: Pretty cheeky title, there, Sir Paul.

Patrice O’Neal, “Mr. P”: The late comedian isn’t around for the release of his album (he died last November), but in a move I’m sure he’d appreciate, every single track on the CD has been tagged with an “explicit” label. Rest in Peace, Mr. P.

Roberta Flack, “Let It Be Roberta: Roberta Flack Sings the Beatles”: In other news, on Paul McCartney’s next album, he’ll sing songs by Roberta Flack.

— Will Pfeifer

Sources: thedigitalbits.com; tophitsonline.com