It is overblown, half-baked opinions like this that make me kind of resent this movie. To praise the film so highly because it is so restrained and quiet and it understands the value of "less is more" is overlooking the simple reality this is a brain-dead simple revenge thriller with a really REALLY glossy coat of paint on it. The characters are quiet, but they are also completely one-note cliches, the situations are all borrowed from similar films and I honestly don't see the "brilliant acting" everyone keeps raving about (with the exception being Albert Brooks, who is excellent, despite the archetype of a character he is saddled with). If one were to read the film as being kind of an anti-action film, showcasing how trite and cliched most films in the genre tend to be I'd listen to you but considering everyone is praising it as being a fresh and original crime film, I'm going to guess that satirical possibility was not intentional. There were laughs in my theater at some of the interactions between Mulligan and Gosling because they were simply too awkward to be remotely believable, to the point of parody. I have seen Refn's Valhalla Rising and Bronson in addition to this and I am confident in saying the man either isn't interested in or isn't capable of crafting well-rounded, interesting characters. All of them have a metric ton of style, are bristling with confidence and have several praiseworthy elements (mostly due to the actors, barring some of them in Drive) but I do not consider them much more than average films overall.