‘Drive’ Ending Explained

Published 4 years ago by

Drive Movie Ending Drive Ending Explained


If you’re reading this, then you’ve already had the chance to watch Nicolas Winding Refn’s pulpy crime-drama Drive, and hopefully enjoyed it as much as we did (be sure to read our Drive review).

Though Drive seems like a standard action/thriller (albeit with some art house style and flare), a lot of movie goers have walked away with questions about the movie’s final moments, which leave a fair amount of ambiguity hanging over the fate of “Driver,” the character played by Ryan Gosling.

In the past with our Shutter Island and Inception Ending Explanations, we here at Screen Rant have had to rely on our prowess as movie aficionados in order to form some logical deductions about what transpired in some of our favorite mind-bending movies, and what filmmakers intended with their ambiguous endings. In the case of Drive, however, we were fortunate enough to snag an explanation right from the primary source: director Nicolas Winding Refn.

When we last see Driver – bleeding out while behind the wheel of his car, before pulling himself together and speeding off into the night – there is a certain amount of lingering doubt about the literalness vs. figurativeness of what we are seeing. When I asked Refn first-hand what the ending of Drive was all about, I expected the typically coy filmmaker to hand me an equally coy answer. However, he was surprisingly straight forward in his response:

Well all my films always have open endings. All of them. Because I believe art is always best when…you talk about it and think about it, so forth. Maybe once in awhile I’ve gone too far, but I always believe in finding the right balance. And in ‘Drive’ he lives on for more and new adventures.

So there you have it – if you were wondering whether or not the ending of the film was to be taken literally, or was some metaphoric death scene, you at least now know how the director sees it.

Drive Starring Ryan Gosling Drive Ending Explained

He will live on to drive another day.

Refn has continuously referred to the film as a modern Grimm fairytale (unlikely hero rises to battle evil king, saves princess) and I for one always saw the ending as the hero saving the girl, while also being denied the “happily ever after” cliche he may want. Indeed, the implications of the film are such that Driver will likely speed off into new adventures, as Refn claims, albeit still stuck in the lonely and isolated existence in which we found him. The only difference is: he now knows what kind of hero he can be.

Do you have any thoughts to share about the ending of the film? Let us know in the comments.

Drive is now playing in theaters.

TAGS: Drive
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  1. stupid violent rubbish-more slaughter scenes than scenes with any audible dialogue

    • stupid violent rubbish-more slaughter scenes than scenes with any audible dialogue

      Did anyone twist your arm to watch it Gergory? No, so do not go out of your way to cry about it.

      He left the money because the mob ill always find out about it and also it has brought nothing but bad luck. Unlike Llewelyn Moss from ‘no country for old men’ he was smart enough to leave the money and the blood or paper trail.

      The ending was left open to appease both the studio , who like happy endings’ and the director.

      • Well, you have to watch a movie before you can properly judge it.

      • Well, I actually quite liked it, even though some scenes where quite violent and disturbing, but over all, it’s a classic in my eyes.

      • did anyone twist your arm to b**** about bitching chicken? seriously jack ass of the year

    • You don’t really get films, do you?

  2. I wondered why the ‘Driver’ left the bag of cash with the dead guy in the parking lot…he’s already on the hook for it, and it is doubtful that the money will find its way back to the mob. He needed it, and might as well have taken it.

    • How does any hero ‘save’ the girl and leave the money? She was a widower with a child! In all the Judeo-Christian-Islam religions it is seen as honorable to treat widows and orphans well…I think the point that was attempted to be made was somehow the money was corrupt. Money is just money, and in a modern film, the hero brings the cash to the widow and her child. Thus the ‘hero’ of Drive was weak and STUPID!!!

      • But he did offer the money and his help, she refused. Pay attention.

      • Religion has nothing to do with his actions and I don’t see what religion has to do with this film. The money was dirty…the whole reason he did any of this was to keep Irene and Benicio (Mother and Son) out of harms way. By giving them the money, there leaves chance that the mob will find it and kill who ever has it. You said “…in modern film, the hero brings the cash to the widow and her child.” What on earth are you talking about? She even refused the money because she knew it was trouble. You did not pay any attention to this film. You thought Driver was weak and stupid? Again, what are you talking about? What are your comparisons? I don’t think you have any to be honest. Money is not “just money”. If the mofia thinks it belongs to them, then it probably does and (in most situations) they will do what ever it takes to get it back. Please respond, because I’m curious to read your rebuttal.

  3. Okay I have thought a lot and the only thing i have to say about the end of the movie is pay attention to the shadows and the positioning of the sun…they showed all the other murders he committed and if you piece together the fact the body was behind the car and when driver kills bernie at the back of his car the shadow faces away from the car….reason they didnt show the kill…just the shadows we he is pulling away the shadow goes back towards where the car would have been parked….you dont sit with a stomach wound like that and just magically wake up and if he is alive your telling me that throughout an entire day no one came to look at the body in the middle of the parking lot…. also whenever he is driving at night the rearview mirror goes from showing a face that i feel resembles ryan gosling but isnt and then it will show Actual Ryan sorry for no periods needed to get thought down.

  4. Love it. Please make sequel out of it. Will watch it.

    • I just played it for my Fiance on Netflix. She loved it too. You have to see it at least one more time to catch the brilliance of the directing and camera work, the use of music. I just saw it with her (my 4th time) and it still blows me away.

  5. i belive he died driving, just stayed behind the wheel until the clock ran out.

  6. You know he lives if you know this was based off a book and there’s a sequel to the book called “Driven”.

  7. Thank you for the answer. I agree with the director, art is best when it is discussed. Your website helped keep the conversation going. Good movie. Great job.

    (But what was with the horrible 90s purple font?)

    • that’s an 80s font. seemed like a tribute to “to live and die in l.a.” or something.

  8. Movie is awesome. i must b n a time warp i thought it came out this year and in my mind refer to it as Ryans new movie. I see that he didn’t go back for the girl and she was sad. also that the girl could live because they we’re keeping this whole snafu a secret.that added up!

    • Love this flick. I took the ending as the Driver is just heading to a random town to patch himself up… find another job as a mechanic… and continue to do what he does. I felt this was just another chapter in his Get-Away-Driver life. He’s been here before – I got that from the scene in the coffee shop where they man from a past job approaches him and you see how dark the Driver can be with his cool delivery of “shut up or I’ll knock your teeth in”. He has no PROBLEMS AT ALL knocking teeth in as we all saw in the elevator scene. You have to have been through some gruesome situations to be able to stomp a mans face in and move right along with your life. C’mon, “Driver” is a psycho folks. In my opinion he left the money behind for a few reasons. As a “F*&K YOU” to the mob and as a way of ending it. It answers the Mobs question to “where did the money go?” – “oh, Bernie and Nino the jew got killed behind that heist, it was left on Bernies body, fuhgetaboutit”.

  9. When we first see Driver “stabbed” in the parking lot, we all see him flashback to when the offer was made to him to hand over the money and his girlfriend would live. What we were actually seeing in the parking lot was Driver imaging the sort of fate that awaited him if he took the deal. He was never stabbed and the reason there was so much blood on his shirt was because of the wound he inflicted on the mobster.

  10. “Shane”

    • Bingo.

  11. The ending is stupid ! After that ending I wondered why I spent the time watching this idiotic chit. The director/writer is a dumb S and I’ll pay attention to never watch any of this crap again.. sheesh… Friggin unbelievable to film all that and end it with that chit … moron

    • Yeah! People like you should stay with movies like American Pie Beta Camp or stuff like this!

  12. I loved Ryan Gosling’s work in DRIVE! I love the look, especially his silver scorpion jacket…killer!

  13. I just wanted him to take of his blood and dirt stained jacket ! How could he keep wearing it, yuk!

  14. I just watched this movie and could not understand WHY he left the money. I thought it would have been better if writer had written in a sting where the Mob guy thought he got the cash back, but was really a bomb that blew him away, and the girl discovered a suitcase that the driver had left that had the real money in it for her and the kid. Just my take.

  15. He survives. The story is based on the James Sallis books. The second book in the series ‘Driven’ is set seven years after this story.

  16. Just finished watching the movie, what i was thinking at the end of the movie is that he died behind the wheel and he actually didn’t wake up. He died behind the wheel and drove off doing what his heart loves ” driving “. and the scene where the girl knocks on his door and walks away shows that he is actually dead and she knows it too. Thats what I pulled from the ending. Overall great movie.

  17. The ending was the inevitable realization of Driver’s goal, to protect Irene and her son, Benicio. After he kills Bernie Rose, the only connection left to any future threat of reprisal for the heist was himself. He did the only thing he could do… drive.

  18. Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?

    • I DON SEE IT AS A open ended movie. it has sth about religion but a very short mentioning…”i am a Jew they don respect me…”!!!!!!!!so what?
      the violent and bloody scenes were too much and very unnatural as if you were just supposed to see nothing but blood,blood..so what??the most disgusting and unnatural way of slaughtering :(((((
      the driver leaves the money because of his personality; a straight minded guy just want to live without disturbing anybody else. but this time a girl comes in between.i can say that he is heading to the girl.because when he say sth he always sticks to his principles e.g” 5 minutes,no gun, don call me back” and ” i don want the money…” .he calls irene and says “go home, i can come back” so you can see that he knows well what he’s doing.
      at the end the movie had nothing to say except the scene the driver leaves the money on the pavement”.

      • I stopped reading as you mentioned “it has something about religion. In God we trust! Pathetic!

  19. boring movie.. i was waiting for some story to start but it was having nothing to give.. story is not impresive n it lead nowhere

  20. I really like the Ryan Gosling Scorpion Jacket. Ending not much ok, but I bought the jacket from online store see here http://goo.gl/DTwBvy

  21. doesnt matter how the director sees it knowing the human body the dude is dead he wasnt someone that was going to a hospital and you cant just drive and think your gonna live life doesnt work like that

    yes its what the director says but if your even remotely educated on the human antaomy then you know without a shadow of a doubt that hes dead as a door nail

  22. nothing about the driver is heroic its just like claire stanfield in baccano……..oh hey guys you know i just love mangling peoples bodies under trains because I LOVE TRAINS

    lol seriously nothing about any of the people in the entire movie is good there all awful if your a mob wife NUFF SAID

  23. I would really like Ryan Gosling stick with this character. The he and the director have a great relationship. I’m a fan of “Only God Forgives” as well.

  24. Reason 1: He wanted to prove irene that, he wasnt involved in killing of her husband with a motive of getting her. Its clear, when he calls her and said that time with her was best and he wont come back after the meeting( even though he survived the meeting)

    Reason 2: Money, left at the crime scene will end the blood bath otherwise he would be chased to death.

  25. Obviously goslings character didnt know Albert brooks character was a knife/blade afficianado .. Nor did he know he was the one who killed cranstons character. ( the last time he saw Cranston was when he said to leave and never come back .. ) he was going to kill brooks when he got the $ from the trunk not knowing the guy would stab him first (how could he. ) in regard to leaving the money .. I think it’s fairly obvious that as Albert brooks character says it’s only the 3 of them (the girl / gosling and brooks ) left that know about the robbery details. So by leaving the money ( which the police or a passerby? most likely will find (it’s next to a dead body in broad daylight ) he doesn’t want the money that’s not what he’s about.. Nor did the girl who slapped him when he suggested she take it , it’s blood money. So either way I think Brooks character (knowing he was about to stab gosling) .. Was just saying gosling would have to look over his shoulder (bluffing essentially ), while in reality , he was about to close the loop by killing him and would have probably killed the girl too as he was obviously lying in the restaurant .. Gosling killed him though and knew that he and the girl were in no more danger .. Closing the loop of anyones knowledge ..(to tell the mob who was involved). And the rest is up to the imagination.