Michael Mann’s Thief and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive have a lot similarities than their five letter titles. It’s almost as if the DNA of Thief runs through the fabric of Drive and greatly influenced Refn’s story. Thief features a leading performance from James Caan who plays an ex-convict who has returned to his criminal lifestyle. A specialist at cracking safes, he is the best at what he does similar to The Driver (Ryan Gosling) in Drive.These are only a few of the elements that Thief and Drive have in common. Nicolas Winding Refn would insist that he never saw Mann’s Thief until they were very far into the production of Drive. Below are some of the biggest similarities.
While Drive is distinctly a homage to the 80s, Thief was of that time. Thief was created in 1981 by Mann as his first feature film and the flair and design amplify the cool factor. Both films have the ideal of dreamy ’80s, almost hazy, punctuated with plenty of intense violence. Even similar font is used in the title images.
Both Frank (Caan) and The Driver (Gosling) have to knock-off their employer if they hope to live a long, prosperous life. While the rampage of Drive tears through most of second half of the movie, Thief‘s massacre is the final punctuation mark in one heck of a sentence. Both men go through a whole lot of hell to get their revenge and, of course, provide the cliffhanger of whether or not they are still alive.
The heroes in both films seem to have a similar goal, survive and live happily with their love. Frank fell in love with Jessie (Tuesday Weld), a cashier who he wants to have a life with. In that, they end up getting exactly what Frank wants until things get too dangerous for his family. The Driver has a love interest of his own in Irene (Carey Mulligan), his next door neighbor. Even though she is married, her husband is in jail and The Driver fills that gap in Irene’s life. Although she could never leave her husband and when she discovers The Driver’s lengths to protect her, she never wants to see him again. It is her safety that ultimately motivates The Driver to survive and fulfill his mission.
The Soundtrack[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu82XkfpRhs] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DSVDcw6iW8]
One of the things you’ll hear when people confess their love for Drive, is that the soundtrack was pivotal to the success. As a matter of fact, the BBC let Zane Lowe re-score the film to mixed results. The film employed a very indie-electronic vibe with its selection of music. The same could be said of Mann’s Thief. With the talents of Tangerine Dream, the film has a unique for the time usage of electronic music. Either way, both film scores are fantastic and really add a flair to the films.