What makes the opening getaway car chase of Drive so interesting, fresh and tense is how unorthodox it is. The biggest surprise is the lack of outboard shots of the car. I counted maybe three, tops. No long pans as the car takes a corner or reactions from other traffic as they pass. We are almost always in the car throughout (there are POV front and rear views) often with the camera spinning and focusing through the windshield as though we are a passenger too.
The other main aspect is the lack of speedy driving and even time spent stationary. No wheel spins, no screeching of brakes and no unnecessary revving of the engine. This is not driving that’s main goal is to thrill an audience but driving that is designed to make a getaway. It’s the anti-getaway scene; the slower the vehicle travels, the greater the tension.
Then there’s the little joke in the background that becomes the ace up the sleeve. Why is the basketball game on the radio more important than the police scanner?